Bangkok and Pattaya voters will go to the polls for the first time in more than eight years, likely on Nov. 28.
Interior Ministry and Election Commission officials met Aug. 31 to set the tentative date for elections for the special jurisdictions of Pattaya and Bangkok, as well as subdistrict municipalities across the country. The ministry proposed Sunday, Nov. 28 for the polls, but the measure must be confirmed by the Cabinet and then the Election Commission.
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.
Prayut then elevated previously appointed deputy governor Aswin Kwanmuang to governor. Aswin, has run the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration amid much criticism ever since.
Like Bangkok, 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.
More than nine years 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.
The city council, meanwhile, has not changed as much as it has disintegrated. Only three of the 12 council members named by the junta in 2016 remain in office and all are “lame ducks”, unable to hold meetings pass any legislation or budgets.
Three years of attrition had left the city council with only six members when the panel met Aug. 12. After an intense and acrimonious debate over a proposal to spend 200 million baht on new closed-circuit television cameras, half the six resigned in protest.
Unable to form a quorum, the council collapsed. But council Chairman Anan Angkanawisan – who was accused of inappropriate legislative action by the resigning members – and councilmen Thanet Supornsahatrangsi and Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn decided to stay on as caretakers and oversee ongoing projects.
The Interior Ministry’s electoral recommendations will be taken up by the Cabinet at its Sept. 7 meeting. The EC then will set constituency district boundaries fand fix the number of members on the new Pattaya council. It’s unknown whether it will expand to the previous 24 seats or stick with the junta-curtailed 12.