Bangkok votes for new governor for first time in decade

Around four million people are eligible to vote in the first major poll since Thailand's huge youth-led street protests in 2020 demanding political change and reform to the once-untouchable monarchy.

Published: 22nd May 2022 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2022 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

Thai people cast their ballots in Bangkok's gubernatorial election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand. ( Photo | AP)

Thai people cast their ballots in Bangkok's gubernatorial election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand. ( Photo | AP)

By AFP

BANGKOK: Bangkok went to the polls Sunday in its first governor election in almost a decade, with the ballot viewed as an indicator for a national vote expected within a year.

Around four million people are eligible to vote in the first major poll since Thailand's huge youth-led street protests in 2020 demanding political change and reform to the once-untouchable monarchy.

But daily life rather than politics has dominated the candidates' campaigns, with the leading contenders promising to clear up the congested, polluted and noisy megapolis home to 10 million.

Polling centres opened across Bangkok at 8:00 am (0100 GMT) -- closing at 5:00 pm -- with temperature checks and Covid-19 restrictions at each voting station.

"I am not excited about the election. It will hardly change Bangkok, but I vote for a person who I think can change Bangkok, though a little bit. I do hope this candidate will make some change," said 28-year-old Nat, who gave only his nickname, after he voted.

A record 30 candidates are in the running for the top job, throwing their names into the hat eight years after the 2014 coup saw local elections scrapped and the city run by government-appointed leaders.

First thing Sunday morning, frontrunner and independent candidate Chadchart Sittipunt was seen riding his bike to his local polling station to cast his ballot.

ALSO READ: Bangkok governor election seen as national harbinger

The ex-transport minister in the government ousted in the last coup has promised to tackle the city's notorious traffic, as well as making numerous green pledges, and insisted voters want a change from the entrenched political divisions.

He is facing off against incumbent Aswin Kwanmuang, a former police general backed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who has also promised to fix the city's perennial flooding issues.

But his poor record on the issue -- after just under six years as governor -- saw him endure criticism after parts of Bangkok flooded earlier this week following heavy rains.

Political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Chulalongkorn University said the outcome would give some idea of the capital's willingness to back candidates of the royalist and military establishment that dominates Thai politics.

"Bangkok is not Thailand, but the Bangkok governor election this time will be a bellwether for bigger polls to come," he told AFP this week.

Results are not formally expected until late Sunday evening and will have to be ratified by the country's electoral commission.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp