Top Democrats meet to discuss leader vote
Abhisit, Alongkorn, Warong in running
The Democrat Party will announce its official party leader for the upcoming general election on Nov 11, after it conducts the first ever primary vote in its 72-year history next month.
Democrat deputy leader Jurin Laksanavisit made the comment after chairing a meeting Sunday at the party's headquarters in the Samsen area, where members discussed a timeline to select a leader before the elections, tentatively scheduled for Feb 24.
To date, three individuals have declared their candidacy for the position, Mr Jurin said. They are current party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, former deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot and former Democrat Phitsanulok MP Warong Dechgitvigrom.
According to Mr Jurin, however, Mr Alongkorn said won't officially apply for the role "until he is aware of all the conditions in the voting process".
Dr Warong was absent from the meeting, as he had travelled to Songkhla to meet local Democrats.
Mr Jurin said party members at the meeting unanimously agreed to adopt a primary voting system to elect their next leader, citing their belief in democracy through public involvement.
According to him, all Democrat Party members are entitled to vote for a leader. He said the party has around 81,000 active members who have shown an interest in voting, out of its 2.5 million nationwide registered members.
The party will also accept new membership applications from now until Oct 15, he added.
Formal registration for leadership candidates will commence on Oct 8.
The following day, a meeting will be held among all candidates about the make-up of a party committee to monitor the voting process.
The candidates must select no more than five suitable committee members, each of whom must be Democrat party members.
The party also announced formal criteria for all candidates. Firstly, they must possess documented support from at least 20 existing or former Democrat MPs.
If they are unable to find enough support from MPs, they may choose a second option, which comprises gaining at least 500 party-member votes per region in the country. "Outsiders who are interested in running for party leader will have to do double what has been asked," Mr Jurin said.
"This means gaining support from at least 40 MPs, or from 1,000 party members per region."
He added Mr Alongkorn and Dr Warong, who are former Democrats, may choose to re-register as party members in order to ease their path to selection.
Mr Jurin said voting will be conducted from Nov 1-5 across the country.
For ease of monitoring, the primary voting format will be conducted online, through a mobile application will be made available to members at a later date.
"Members who choose not to vote online can go to voting offices set up on the specified dates in each province," he said.
"After we have gathered the votes, we will hold a large member meeting on Nov 11, where we will find out the winner."
In an earlier development, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon last month denied the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was backing any particular candidate.
Mr Alongkorn had earlier been linked to the NCPO by former Democrat list MPs, as he is also the former deputy chairman of the National Reform Steering Assembly.
Both Gen Prawit and Mr Alongkorn denied any connection between the NCPO and the latter's planned candidacy.