Education, health care and rural development main election issues
by Weena Kowitwanij
The Democratic Party and the People’s Power Party, made up of former PM Thaksin’s loyalists, begin their confrontation ahead of the December 23 election focusing on the main issues facing the country. As a key element to democracy, education tops the list.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Thailand’s two main parties, the Democratic Party (DP) and the People’s Power Party (PPP), are squaring off for the December 23 elections on three main issues, namely education, health care and rural development. Altogether some 800 candidates are running for 20 parties, vying for a seat in the 480-member parliament.

Next month’s elections will be the first since the military took power in a peaceful coup last year with the backing of King Bhumibol, removing then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accused by many of corruption.

For Pravej Vasi, an elderly physician, “to have a real democracy Thailand must focus on education which requires time, patience and money. The king’s decade-long project of satellite education for students in remote areas is a good example to follow.”

In addition to improve local school management, the DP, led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, wants to introduce free education at the primary and secondary levels.

Some analysts see this proposal as an attempt to counter the PPP’s widespread support in rural areas. The latter is made up of former supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin and is expected to do well outside the cities.

From London where he is in exile Mr Thaksin pleaded for PPP unity, urging party members to accept party-list candidates as they are, and focus instead their energy on the general election.