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[ 2019-02-11 ]

Thailand Candidates have Registered for March 24th General Election

The country has been under military rule since a coup in 2014 toppled a Pheu Thai-led civilian government following a period of political instability.

Thailand will hold a general election in March that will end over four years of military rule. The Election Commission has recently been accepting registrations for both constituency and party-list candidates.

Each party can register up to three candidates for prime minister.   When the parliament gathers following the March 24 election a new leader will be chosen from among these candidates.

Although Friday was the registration deadline for the country, every major party contesting the lower house election registered its single-seal constituency candidates on the first day. Therefore the candidates list to be elected by proportional representation can be submitted at a later date.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha has been named the No. 1 candidate for prime minister by the pro-junta Palang Pracharath Party.   However the junta chief is said to be still considering the offer.

Party leader Uttama Savanayana and deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak have been named second and third candidates.

Former health minister Sudarat Keyuraphan has been reported to be nominated by the Pheu Thai Party as candidate for prime minister along with another key party figure. The Pheu Thai Party draws large support from the poor, especially in the rural areas.  

Sudarat is a long-time loyalist of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.   Former Prime Minister Thaksin live abroad in self-imposed exile and the party is widely thought of as an instrument of Thaksin’s political views.

Thailand’s oldest party, The Democrat Party, plans to nominate just one candidate for prime minister.   That is leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The Democrat Party’s support mostly comes from the wealthy in urban areas.

In 2014 a coup toppled a Pheu Thai-led civilian government following a lengthy period of instability.   Since then the country has been under military rule.

The junta last month announced elections would be held on March 24 to choose 500 new lower house members.   After repeated delays for an election, this will pave the way for the country’s return to civilian rule.

At the registration office in Bangkok supporters of various parties were interviewed at a rally. Prawit, a 52-year old business owner said he supported the Democrat Party for its long history and the qualifications of its candidates.

A 64-year-old Palang Pracharath support, Korkaew Tirakul, hopes the new pro-junta party will continue with their on-going projects, especially ones that are designed for seniors and low-income families.   Also help intercepting the clashes between rival political forces in Thailand.

Pheu Thai supporter, 51 year old merchant Somchai Naruerithiron, hopes party lawmakers will help turn his underdeveloped area of Bangkok into a tourist attraction.

Under the country’s new electoral system, 350 of the 500 members in the lower house will be chosen through elections in single-seat constituencies, and the remaining 150 through proportional representation from party lists.

The last general election for the country was in February 2014 when Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was prime minister. This followed by months of anti-government protests. After disruptions in some constituencies the Constitutional Court later nullified that election.

Yingluck won the 2011 general election and was installed as the first female prime minister under the Pheu Thai party. Just before the military coup the Constitutional Court removed her.