First post-coup elections underway
by Weena Kowitwanij
Some 18 Parties are competing for 480 seats to be decided on December 23. The Democratic Party is going head-to-head with the People’s Power Party which still backs ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now in exile after last year’s military takeover.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The first election campaign following last year’s military takeover, started today in Thailand. The coup removed then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra because of accusations of corruption. Some 18 parties are now competing but none seemed to be poised to win an outright majority.

The elections are scheduled for December 23 and early projections suggest that the Democratic Party (DP) and the People’s Power Party (PPP)—which includes many supporter of the ousted Prime Minister—will take the bulk of the 480-member parliament. The party with the most seats is by tradition given the task to form a coalition government with smaller parties.

“Respect the law and punish those who make mistakes,” is what DP leader Abisit Vejjajiva said in presenting his party’s platform.

The DP is expected to lead in the much of the south, especially in the capital Bangkok. Its deputy leader was the governor of the capital when the military took over and remains popular.

However, the PPP is expected to do well in rural areas where ousted PM’a populist policies still resonate despite being disowned by the military government.

Its leader, Samak Sundaravej, is already on record saying that he wants “to bring back our former prime minister with all honours.”

In order to blunt the PPP’s appeal and woo rural voters, the DP has amended its programme to include policies favourable to this segment of the population and convince them that they can count on the DP to get justice.