Bangkok and Pattaya voters will get to cast ballots for their local leaders for the first time nearly 10 years on May 22, the eighth anniversary of the military coup that stunted democracy in Thailand.
The Election Commission announced Monday the long-delayed elections finally be held, with the official winner declared on March 25.
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The last time Bangkok voters got to exercise their democratic rights to city leaders was July 2012, when Sukhumbhand Paribatra won re-election by a landslide. But he was removed by junta leader, and now Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha in 2016 for basically opposing the coup and defying the insecure general.
Pattaya will hold its first elections since July 2012, with voters finally getting a chance to rid themselves of the Kunplome clan that has run the city for decades.
Nearly a decade ago, voters returned Itthiphol Kunplome to the mayor’s chair and 24 council members from his Palang Chon Party slate. A lot has changed since then, starting with the military coup in May 2014. The elected officials remained in power until their terms ended at the end of June 2016.
After that, the junta put then permanent secretary Chanapong Sriviset in charge until 2018 when Itthiphol’s older brother Sonthaya was named mayor by Prayut, for whom he had been softening up Chonburi for in anticipation of national elections in 2019.
In Bangkok, after Prayut got rid of his foe Sukhumbhand, he elevated Aswin Kwanmuang from his position as deputy governor. He has run the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration amid much criticism ever since.
Aswin is leaning toward throwing his hat into the ring for reelection, but faces long odds. Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt has a comfortable lead over a large field of canddiates, according to a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration. Trailing him are Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn of the Move Forward Party and Democrat Party candidate Suchatvee Suwansawat, as of March 6.