Bangkok polls may tip in favour of the opposition

NINE years after the last elections, and six years after the military government installed its governor, residents of the Thai capital will finally cast their ballots on Sunday for the city’s leader in a vote that could tip the balance in favour of the opposition ahead of a general election.

Opinion polls suggest candidates associated with opposition parties will dominate the race for Bangkok’s governor, while the incumbent trails behind.

The frontrunner in the upcoming election, Chadchart Sittipunt, is running as an independent. But his supporters and opponents see him as a proxy for the main opposition party, Pheu Thai, for which he stood as a prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 general election.

“You need a governor for the people: improve their daily problems,” the 55-year-old Chadchart said.

A record 31 candidates entered the race, but Chadchart’s performance against one candidate is drawing special scrutiny.

Asawin Kwanmuang was appointed governor in 2016 by Prayut Chan-o-cha. Like Chadchart, the former senior policeman says he is running as an independent, though he is seen as a stand-in for the ruling Palang Pracharath party.“I urge (people) to vote for the ‘Love Bangkok’ team. Our team isn’t linked to any political party and wants to develop Bangkok,” he said at a campaign rally last week.

A third candidate is Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn from the opposition Move Forward Party. His party takes a more critical stance than Pheu Thai towards the government, but for that reason could siphon votes from Chadchart’s total, to Asawin’s benefit. — AP

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