Pheu Thai, Democrats race to the finish

The ruling Pheu Thai and opposition Democrat parties campaigned frenetically for their Bangkok governor candidates on Saturday as voters prepared to deliver their verdict on Sunday.

  • Published: 2/03/2013 at 04:44 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra joins Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen at a campaign stop on Saturday. (Post Today Photo)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra launched a caravan of 50 cars and pickup trucks to rally support for her party's candidate, Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen.

Ms Yingluck and Pol Gen Pongsapat were accompanied by Pheu Thai ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, Interior Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

Jatuporn Prompan, a core member of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, and Paveena Hongsakul, founder of the Paveena Foundation for Children and Women, also joined the caravan.

"I'm confident that the victory will be Pol Gen Pongsapat's and he has been well received by the public," Ms Yingluck said.

She said she wanted Sunday's election to be held transparently, fairly and democratically.

Pol Gen Pongsapat said people in Bangkok would have to decide if they wanted the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to work seamlessly with the government.

The "seamless" message has been his main selling point as he maintains that having the same party in charge of the capital and the central government would make it easier to get things done.

"I want to work to help improve Bangkok residents' quality of life and my work can be inspected by the people," said the former deputy national police chief.

Meanwhile, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva flagged off a caravan of campaign pickup trucks in a final push for his party's contender, MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

Mr Abhisit and MR Sukhumbhand were accompanied by party advisory chairman Chuan Leekpai, former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin, and other Democrat MPs.

Campaigning is allowed until 6pm the day before the election and Mr Abhisit said he wanted Democrat MPs to meet as many people as possible in Bangkok to bring about victory for MR Sukhumbhand.

Core members of the Democrat Party join the final campaign caravan for MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra. (Post Today Photo)

A win for MR Sukhumbhand would be a victory for all Thais and for the country, the former prime minister added.

Most opinion polls have shown the Democrat trailing his Pheu Thai rival, though strategists for both parties say the race is probably closer than the surveys show.

MR Sukhumbhand said he was confident he could win as he was welcomed by large numbers of people when he launched campaigns in various areas of the city.

He called for a large turnout of eligible voters because the election is significant to all levels of politics, not only for Bangkok residents.

"Almost all of the policies for the development of Bangkok outlined by my party have been carried out," he said of his previous term which expired in January.

"Some policies could not be achieved in four years but at least I have laid down the foundations.

"If I am re-elected, I will come up with my own policies and these policies will be implemented as much as possible over the next four years."

City Clerk Ninart Chalitanon said voter turnout for Sunday's election was expected to be at least 70%.

Inspecting ballot boxes at Don Mueang District Office, she said that eligible voters in the capital should exercise their voting rights.

"We want at least a 70% voter turnout to make it worth the 175-million-baht budget for holding this election," Ms Ninart said.

She called on the Bangkok residents to vote in the morning because the queues could be longer in the afternoon.

The city clerk said a total of 199 police officers would help the BMA monitor all polling stations across Bangkok.

The BMA had coordinated with the traffic police to ensure smooth traffic flow around the city on Sunday, she added.

Election Commissioner Prapan Naikowit said voter turnout would probably be more than 60%.

Voter turnout for Bangkok gubernatorial elections usually ranges between 50% and 60%, lower than in national campaigns.

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