Published on November 11, 2007
Bangkok is likely to become a decisive battleground in determining whether the Democrat Party or its rivals claim victory to lead the next government, party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.
"The race is expected to be intense, though not anticipated to degenerate into social divisions, and a victory in Bangkok is crucial for the Democrats to have a chance at running the country," he said.
Abhisit was speaking at a press conference to introduce 36 candidates for direct election in 12 Bangkok constituencies.
All major parties plan to field top-notch candidates in the capital and three leading contenders for the position of prime minister are party-list candidates competing from Bangkok via proportionate voting. The three are Abhisit, Samak Sundaravej of the People Power Party and Prachai Leophairatana of Matchima Thipataya.
The registration of candidates for direct election to 400 House seats begins tomorrow and ends on Friday in 157 constituencies nationwide.
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin pledged to campaign hard for his party's candidates in his capacity as a ranking Democrat.
"I have already notified the Election Commission about my planned campaigning activities, which will take place outside office hours and not be related to any official duties," he said.
Apirak said he was confident that Bangkok residents would vote for the Democrats based on the merits of its campaign policies, which have been formulated with the people's input to serve their needs.
Well-known personalities running under the Democrat banner include party spokesman Ong-art Klampaiboon in Bangkok's constituency 12, which covers Bang Phlat, Bangkok Noi and Taling Chan.
Two lawmakers and anti-Thaksin campaigners, Samran Rodphet and Prapan Koonmee, will run in Bangkok's constituency 7, covering Bang Kapi, Saphan Sung and Min Buri.
Two first-time candidates, Sakolthee Phatti-yakul and Kongsak Yod-mani, will woo votes in constituency 4 (Bang Sue, Lak Si, Chatuchak and Phya Thai) and constituency 5 (Bang Khen, Sai Mai and Don Muang). Sokoltee is the son of junta secretary General Winai Phattiyakul and Kongsak's father is Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani.
The Puea Pandin Party yesterday released 30 names out of 36 candidates for Bangkok constituencies, one day after the Matchima Thipataya Party announced its 36 candidates and a projection of complete victory in Bangkok.
High-profile candidates under the Puea Pandin banner are former lawmaker Nitipoom Navarat and his son Netipoom. Olympic bronze medallist Wichai Rachanon is trying to launch his political career by capitalising on his boxing prowess.
Party leader Suwit Khunkitti said his party would highlight policies on the environment, the elderly and quality of life in order to sway Bangkok voters.
"If elected, Puea Pandin will transform Bangkok into a happiness centre within four years," he said.
The People Power Party is scheduled to unveil its 36 candidates for Bangkok seats today.
Election Commission member Prapun Naigowit said he was consulting with the parties in order to assign them the same ballot numbers for proportionate voting and for direct voting in Bangkok.
"Because of the large number of constituency candidates, voters will have to memorise too many numbers if each candidate is assigned their own number," he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Sonthi Boonyaratglin said the campaign against vote-buying was in progress.
"Authorities nationwide are involved in raising awareness about money politics and the harmful consequences," he said.
He added that he would cooperate with electoral officials in the fight against campaign violations.
General Prem Tinsulanonda, president of the Privy Council, urged voters to assess candidates based on their individual merits.
"I hope the people will elect only good individuals as their representatives," he said, voicing confidence that the country would overcome its current turmoil following a free and fair election.