As the Bangkok governor race draws near, Democrat dissatisfaction with incumbent Sukhumbhand Paribatra and other alternative candidates has led them to try to enlist deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij to rescue the party in this vital election.
The Democrats face an uphill battle to convince a reluctant Mr Korn, who is reported to have ambitions of becoming the party's next leader and the country's next premier.
Mr Korn is a member of the party's selection committee for the governor election, scheduled for Feb 17.
The committee, headed by Democrat Party adviser Banyat Bantadtan, has listened to the visions of four potential candidates _ MR Sukhumbhand, Democrat list-MP Prakorb Jirakitti, former vice minister Apichai Techa-ubol and former deputy prime minister Korbsak Sabhavasu.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the party's executive board will convene this week to select a suitable candidate for the governor race.
A Democrat source who requested anonymity says it is unlikely the executive board will accept any of the four candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring.
The board must try to convince MR Sukhumbhand to cooperate, otherwise he may become critical of the party and affect its competitiveness in the election, the source said.
"MR Sukhumbhand's performance over the past four years has failed to satisfy the executive board of the party and Bangkok residents may wonder why the party does not field a better candidate," the source said.
Mr Abhisit has not sent any signals about what he will do should MR Sukhumbhand refuse to withdraw from the race, the source said.
The Democrat executive board may consider three potential candidates if MR Sukhumbhand insists on running in the election. The other two candidates are Mr Korn and Democrat list-MP Ong-art Klampaibul.
Democrat executives have repeatedly asked Mr Korn to run in the election due to his popularity and executive image. He has so far rejected all requests and has never expressed any interest in the local election.
Mr Korn nominated Mr Ong-art, saying he had served as a Bangkok MP and a Bangkok councillor on several occasions, knew Bangkok's problems well and enjoyed great support from Bangkok MPs, councillors and district councillors.
Meanwhile, Mr Ong-art said he would nominate Mr Korn.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a political scientist of Sripatum University, said Mr Korn would be a more energetic Bangkok governor and boost the popularity of his party in the capital.
However, he would have to sacrifice or put on hold his national political ambitions because it would be inappropriate to abandon the governor's seat before serving out his term to stand for national office, Mr Somchai warned.
About the author
- Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros