Democrats struggle at crossroads

Democrats struggle at crossroads

Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai has expressed concerns over what he called
Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai has expressed concerns over what he called "outside factors" that may guide or influence the Democrat Party. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The Democrat Party's chief adviser Chuan Leekpai has expressed concerns over what he called "outside factors" that may guide or influence the party in deciding what political road to take.

After suffering a great loss in the March 24 election which caused Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign as party leader, the 73-year-old party is now at a crossroads as it has to choose its new leader, restore its confidence and decide whether to join other parties to form a coalition government.

Amid this crucial moment, "outside factors may dominate us," Mr Chuan said as he joined former MPs for Bangkok and Democrat members to listen to views on party management given on Saturday by four Democrat candidates vying to lead the party.

The former Democrat leader did not elaborate on what he meant when he referred to "unpleasant externalities". When asked whether there are reports of some businessmen interfering with party affairs, Mr Chuan only said he "always stays alert".

"We keep telling one another the competition [to become party leader] is our internal affair," he said.

No Democrat member wants to see disunity inside their party as that has never happened before. However, Mr Chuan admitted, there have been signs in recent months that conflicts may break out.

"Perhaps it's because the world changes or newcomers change," he said.

After the general election, some Democrats backed Mr Abhisit when he announced he would not support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as a prime minister, but some others have different views.

Mr Chuan said he agrees with Democrat acting leader Jurin Laksanavisit who wants Democrats not to give opinions on this issue and wait until the party has its new leader.

Up to 307 Democrats, who represent their fellow members, will vote for the new leader on Wednesday.

Mr Jurin is among four candidates competing for the top position. The others are former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, two-time former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin, and former justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.

Mr Apirak said he has invited "new generation people" to join him to rebuild the party.

They include economics expert Prinn Panitchpakdi, scholar and business guru Karndee Leopairote, and Huwaidiya Pitsuwan who will work on women's development.


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