Voter turnout tipped to hit new high
Policies rank fourth in voter priorities
The March 24 election could see an unprecedented voter turnout, according the King Prajadhipok's Institute (KPI).
The institute found almost 95.9% of people who responded to its latest survey, carried out from March 7-10, said they intend to vote.
It is the fifth poll-related survey the KPI has conducted with 1,540 respondents nationwide, according to KPI secretary-general Wutthisan Tanchai.
The latest result shows even more people have said they will go to the poll. In the previous survey earlier this month, 95.4% of respondents made it clear they planned to vote.
The percentage of the people who said they believe their votes are important for improving the country rose from 67.7 in the previous survey to 70.4%, a significant rise in voters' confidence in the value of their votes, Mr Wutthisan said.
When asked what factors the voters take into account when deciding who to vote for, the majority agreed that they would go for individual candidates, followed by their parties and their parties' prime ministerial candidates, he said.
Parties' policies, which used to be a key factor in shaping voters' decisions, came fourth in the latest survey.
As most voters pay more attention to individual candidates and prefer those they think they can turn to for help in the constituencies, this is proof that the patronage system is still prevalent in society, the academic said.
With higher loyalty to a particular election candidate, the voters will continue to be attached to him or her even if the candidate has already switched from one party to another, he said.
Mr Wutthisan said the Election Commission should step up measures to tackle malicious fake news about the election and the poll candidates.
At the same time, voters should be wary of election information they receive and they should make the effort to verify it.
Fact checks would be helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of information about campaign policies, candidates and parties.
He also advised the media to avoid relaying biased judgements with references to the branding of certain parties as being "pro-democracy" and others as belonging to the "pro-regime" side which is trying to cling on to power.
Such branding divides people and contributes to the polarisation in society, Mr Wutthisan said.
The remarks also make voters feel they have to choose sides when they should be examining election manifestos and candidates' capabilities, he said.