Democrats to set leadership race criteria

Democrats to set leadership race criteria

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (second from right, visiting party headquarters earlier this year) will face a confidence vote by all party members. (File photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (second from right, visiting party headquarters earlier this year) will face a confidence vote by all party members. (File photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The criteria for selecting the next chief of the Democrats will be decided at the party's general assembly meeting next Wednesday now that at least two people have confirmed they are open to standing in the leadership race.

The date for setting the criteria was established at a meeting of executives that was convened for the first time Monday after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) partially eased its long-held ban on political activities ban last Thursday.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the new system for electing the party's leader, which he initiated, would conclude in November.

The system was designed to embolden members to participate more actively in party affairs for a greater sense of loyalty and ownership. It should also guarantee the party is not in danger of being dominated by one individual, according to Mr Abhisit.

He said the general assembly next Wednesday will be used to flesh out details of how the leadership contest will be conducted.

In principle, the vote to choose candidates is open to all registered members. The list will then be presented at a general meeting to elect the next leader.

Mr Abhisit said next week's assembly would be attended by 300 people including party executives, its former MPs, branch representatives, and registered members.

He said party rules decreed that candidates who are party insiders require the endorsement of at least 20 former MPs and 2,000 registered members nationwide. "Outsider" candidates need twice as much backing.

Sathit Pitutecha, the party's deputy leader and a former MP for Rayong, said the executive board had decided to increase the number of members who are eligible to vote for candidates.

Instead of permitting only registered members, more than a million supporters can now also take part in the process, he said. More weight could be attached to votes by members than party executives, he added.

Mr Sathit said the selection criteria would be worked out meticulously in the interests of fairness and to ward off any possible criticism of rigging.

Next Wednesday's meeting will appoint five members to regulate the leadership race.

He said it should take two or three weeks to compile the list of candidates.

Warong Dechgitvigrom, a former Democrat MP known as the key whistleblower in exposing the rice-pledging scheme initiated by the administration of fugitive former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, admitted his supporters have sent out pamphlets online promoting him as a potential candidate for the Democrat leader's seat.

Dr Warong said he would let Mr Abhisit explain his vision and reasons for seeking to remain as leader before declaring his candidacy.

Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who quit the party to serve on the now-defunct National Reform Steering Assembly, has declared he is ready to be nominated as party leader.

He said he now has about two weeks left to prepare, adding he will now gauge members' reactions to his possible candidacy and ask them how strongly they feel about changing the party for the better.

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