Thais 'fighting wars on many fronts'

Thais 'fighting wars on many fronts'

Special report: Voters speak their minds on what they want from the next government

Officials meet at the Thai-Japanese Youth Centre in Din Daeng district to prepare the registration of election candidates on Saturday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Officials meet at the Thai-Japanese Youth Centre in Din Daeng district to prepare the registration of election candidates on Saturday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Today, election campaign excitement clicks up a notch as candidates parade into designated venues in their provinces to apply to run for seats in the May 14 poll.

The Election Commission (EC) is opening candidacy applications from today until Friday while parties must submit their lists of prime minister candidates from April 4-7.

The election mood is one of high excitement. Long before the House dissolution and the announcement of the election date last month, parties began campaigning, trying to attract voters with promises of a better future. However, social and political divisions linger, with voting lines split between the pro-Prayut and anti-Prayut camps.

Pollsters have released their findings on how the House of Representatives will look, who the next prime minister is likely to be and what issues are most important to voters.

On May 14, millions of Thais will hit the polls and mark two ballots: one picking their local election candidate and the other naming the party they prefer. Who are these millions who will decide the outcome and what are the key issues that spring to mind?

Electoral clout

Voters can be viewed in terms of their age, with Generation X comprising the largest number of voters followed by Generation Y, or the millennials.

The two generations, spanning the ages 27-58, have a combined population of 31,235,618. Considering the size of this voting pool, parties that prioritise these two groups have the best odds at winning.

Generation Z were born between 1997-2012, with the number of population standing at 7,670,354. Of them, 4,012,803 will cast ballots for the first time, accounting for 7.67% of all eligible population, according to

While their electoral clout is not big enough to compete with the others, younger voters are expected to vote decidedly based on their ideology. Parties that know how to communicate and engage this group can get sizeable votes.

Baby-boomers and older voters with a combined population 13,380,673 still make up a big share of voters and can be a deciding factor. But, health issues and travel-related inconvenience could keep them from making their way to polling stations.

In the March 2019 general election, a total of 38,268,375 voters cast ballots, accounting for 74.69% of eligible voters. A high turnout is expected in the upcoming polls with interest building over how each generation will vote and help decide the outcome.

As the campaign gains momentum, the Bangkok Post talked to various groups of voters to see which policy platforms resonate with them and motivate them to vote.

Gen Z / first time voters

The cost of living is a big issue for Gen Z voters who want the next government to take action.

Swift Assawamanta, 22, a senior university student, said labour-wage issues should be addressed to help improve quality of life, although he can't say how much wages should be raised because the cost of living appears to vary depending on the area.

Swift Assawamanta

"One aspect of the cost of living is transport, particularly public transport. It is expensive and has a significant impact on me and many others," he said.

He also weighed in on Section 112, or the lese majeste law, saying the law can be seen as restricting freedom of speech. "It has no direct impact on our daily lives, if we're not involved in such issues. It only affects us if we speak out."

Ponrath: Publictransport is key

Ponrath Sopannarath, 21, a university student, is frustrated with the public transport system, particularly city buses and their quality of services.

Like others her age, he believes that if improvements are made, people will be encouraged to leave their cars at home, resulting in less traffic congestion, less pollution, and lower daily travel expenses.

"I grew up seeing buses emitting black and toxic smoke and have waited all these years for a government to address the problem. Other modes of public transport, such as the BTS and MRT, are prohibitively expensive, even for a middle-class family," she said.

Election posters from various parties are seen in front of the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Din Daeng district. Apichart Junakul


Generation Y voters interviewed by the Bangkok Post identify the economy and life after retirement as a top concern or them.

For 36-year-old Meng who sells sweet drinks in Bangkok's Bang Pakok area, campaign pledges made by various parties leave him cold. They are trying to outbid each other on welfare benefit promises, he says.

He said a generous welfare is always welcome especially a bigger allowance for the elderly but added that saving for retirement should be encouraged from the outset.

"I'm willing to pay more taxes or save more for retirement if the funds are invested and managed with transparency for our future," he said.

As a vendor, he also expects the next government to support "small people" including street vendors because they contribute to the economy. These people are struggling with debts and the high cost of living.

Kung, a 40-year-old food vendor in the Din Daeng area, said a robust economy holds key to everything: peace, social order and national development.

She is looking for a policy that promotes health and employment among the elderly and is sceptical about pension scheme promises of a monthly stipend of 3,000 baht.

"Giving allowances to the elderly is good but can add too much of a burden to the country and will affect the economy as a whole. It is better to help them make an income after retirement too," she said.

Gen X

For many Generation X voters, low- and middle-income earners have had their fair share of economic instability and parties should stop rubbing salt into the wound.

"Politicians should put their conflicts aside and focus on economic development. They should help push good policies instead of blocking them simply because they aren't initiated by their own parties," said Waiwit Thongtongkham, a 51-year-old bank worker.

Corruption has hit every sector whether education, police and even the monastic community and the next government should push for reforms, he added.

Srihaphum Deewicharn, a state enterprise employee, said the next government will have to fight battles on many fronts but the prospect of an economic slowdown and unemployment must be addressed promptly.

He expects to see policies aimed at stimulating spending or promoting investment which should help create more jobs and put money in people's pockets. Tackling the unfair distribution of income and resources should be a priority.

"Creating job opportunities for people upcountry or low-income earners and adopting progressive tax structures can help reduce the income gap," he said.

Thawilwadee: Equality overlooked

Baby boomers

Thawilwadee Bureekul, deputy secretary-general of the King Prajadhipok's Institute (KPI), who tends to identify toward the conservative camp, is keen to vote.

The government of her dreams must represent the people, be subject to scrutiny and crafts policies geared towards long-term growth and development instead of making pledges simply to curry favour.

"I'm looking for education development planning, justice administration changes and equality.

'I don't think the government and various parties are paying enough attention to these issues," she said.

MPs must honour their promises and practice good governance if they want to promote a healthy democracy and meaningful public participation.

Pichai: Energy prices need review

Pichai Ratanatilaka Na Bhuket, political science lecturer at the National Institute of Development Administration, has drawn up a list of what he expects of the next government with good governance, decentralisation of power and a new charter top of the list.

"The pressing economic issue is revising energy price structures to make them fair and affordable for household consumers and allow businesses to stay competitive.

"On the political front, an entire charter should be drawn up in the first year and the Senate, which has one year left in office, should be kept from joining the MPs in electing the prime minister," he said.

Do you like the content of this article?

Deadly dispute

A woman who bought a house from a bank shot dead by the angry former owner, who was refusing to move out, at a housing estate in Pathum Thani.


PM cautions MFP

Just because it won the election doesn’t mean the Move Forward Party should be meeting representatives of state agencies before it forms a government, says caretaker PM Prayut.