TWO WEEKS ahead of the March 24 election, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva made it clear for the first time yesterday that he would not support General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s return to power as prime minister.
He said the country’s economy remained in poor shape during the five years of rule by the military junta under Prayut.
“Let me speak clearly. I certainly don’t support General Prayut to continue as prime minister. Continuation of power [by the junta] leads to conflict and it is counter to the Democrat Party’s ‘people first’ ideology,” Abhisit said.
“The economy has been in bad shape over the last five years. The country has suffered a lot of damage already,” he added.
Abhisit, a former premier, made the remarks in a video posted on his Facebook page.
He did not, however, say whether his party would be able to work post-election with the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party, which has nominated Prayut as its prime ministerial candidate.
In response, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a key figure in the rival Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday he wondered whether Abhisit’s stance was his personal view or Democrat policy.
“In today’s politics there are only two sides in the view of the people – one that supports General Prayut’s continuation of power and one that is against it, which is led by Pheu Thai. Abhisit should not confuse the people by offering his party as a third choice,” Anusorn said.
He said that, to overcome any suspicion, the Democrats’ executive board has to confirm what Abhisit said about Prayut.
Meanwhile, Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul geared up his campaigning yesterday with a two-minute video on Facebook pitching him as the “captain” who could pilot Thailand out of a decade-long conflict towards prosperity.
“I am piloting my aeroplane throughout Thailand to send my heart and good intention to Thais all over the country,” he said. “I am ready to be the captain who flies Thailand ahead and out of the conflict that has pulled our country backwards for more than 10 years.
“I will fly all Thais to well-being and equality,” Anutin said.
In a related development, almost half the people who participated in a survey last week did not know how many ballot papers they would be given on Election Day.
The survey results were released yesterday, showing 48 per cent of respondents unaware there will only be one ballot paper.
While 51.9 per cent of respondents said they knew how many ballot papers each voter would receive, more than 7 per cent of this group did not know there would be only one. Many voters recall filling in two ballot forms in previous elections.
The National Institute of Development Administration surveyed 1,251 eligible voters in all regions on March 5 and 6.
More than 48 per cent of all respondents also didn’t know that candidates – even from the same party – were assigned different numbers on ballots in different constituencies.
Told of the change, 81 per cent said it would pose no problem for them because they could remember the numbers of their preferred candidates in their own constituencies.