Tide swings to Democrats

Experts predict return of Thailand's oldest party to dominance in capital

The Democrat Party will take back its title of champion of Bangkok from arch rivals and disbanded Thai Rak Thai, beating the People Power Party (PPP) in 12 constituencies and winning up to 27 seats in the capital, according to political experts.

Commanding the largest number of members of Parliament - 36 - Bangkok has always been a decisive battleground that tests popularity and can determine which party can run a ruling coalition.

This election will be no different and Bangkok will be the battleground between the Democrats and PPP.

Democrats are expected to take all seats in constituencies 1, 2, 6 and 12. Overall, they are expected to get 20-25 seats, while PPP will get 10-13, Chart Thai might take two and newly formed parties Puea Pandin and Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana might win one each.

Constituency 1 is a long-time Democrat stronghold. It consists of Dusit, Phra Nakhon, Pom Prab, Samphanthawong, Bang Rak, Pathum Wan and Ratchathewi districts.

The Democrat candidates here are ML Apimongol Sonakul, Jearmard Jueng-leard-Siri and Oranong Kan-chana Chusak. Marut Bunnag and MR Sukhumb-hand Paripatra, former members of Parliament and are strongmen in Bangkok constituency 1, will help the trio campaign.

PPP candidates Leelawadi Watcharobol, Kamol Bandaipet and Yuwaluk Apithanakul have no strong support in this area.

Constituency 2 - Sathon, Bang Kho Laem, Yan Nawa, Khlong Toei, Watthana - has long been a Democrat stronghold, even at its lowest ebb.

Korn Chatikavanij might lead the winners here, even though People Power Party might field a niece of Kantathi Suphamongkhon and a relative of Pongpisut Chitsophon.

Constituency 3 is Din Daeng, Wang Thong Lang and Lat Phrao - Thai Rak Thai territory where long-time members Yuranant Pamornmontri and Poowinida Khunplin have served. However, Democrat Patcharee-pan Salirattawi-pak has a chance.

Consti-tuency 4 consists of Bang Sue, Lak Si, Chatuchak and Phya Thai. Although PPP has a former member standing, a Democrat win is possible because political sentiment is in its favour. Former People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) member Bunyord Sukthinthai represents the party here.

Constituency 5 consisting of Sai Mai and Don Muang and will be contested by the Democrats, People Power and Chart Thai.

If Democrat fever does not intensify, the latter two will see a tough fight between Janista Liewchalermwong of Chart Thai and Supamol Hongsakul Hutasing, a son of former member Pavena Hongsakul. People Power is fielding Anusorn Panthong and Karun Hosakul.

Constituency 6 is Khan Na Yow, Khlong San Khlong and Bueng Kum. People Power has no well-known candidate here and the Democrats could sweep it.

Constituency 7 consists of Bang Kapi, Sapan Sung, Min Buri and Lat Krabang. It will be tough. The Democrats are fielding Prapan Khunmee and Samran Rodpet, former PAD leaders. Puea Pandin has high hopes for Nitipoom Naowarat, a former vote-winning Bang-kok senator.

People Power has strong candidates including, Wirat Min-chainant and Mongkol Kimsuchan and Danu-porn Punna-kan, who is a close aide of Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Consti-tuency 8, comprising Suan Luang, Prawet, Bang Na and Phra Khanong, will see four parties slugging it out. All candidates here are prominent: Democrat veteran Pattarasak Osathanukhrao, Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich and Samart Maluleem; former Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul for Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana; People Power has former member Wattana Sengpairoh and former television anchorwoman Suparat Nakbunnam in the race.

Constituency 9 - Thon Buri, Khlong San, Bangkok Yai and Chom Thong - sees Democrat Wilat Chantara-pitak and PPP's Suwat Muangsiri slugging it out.

Consti-tuency 10 - Rat Burana, Thung Khru, Bang Khunthien and Bang Bon - will see a race bet-ween Demo-crat Thawil Praison and People Po-wer's Suwat Wansirira-kul.

Consti-tuency 11 is Phasi Charoen, Bang Khae and Nong Khaem districts. People Power fields former member Sawaeng Kritcharan and Sutha Chansaeng while the Demo-crats have Kowit Tharana.

Constituency 12 takes in Bang Phlat, Bangkok Noi, Taling Chan and Thawee Watthana.

Democrat veteran Ong-art Klampaiboon has won every election he has contested here.

Political experts predict a Democrat sweep all here.

People Power has former members Pitipong Temcha-roen and well known former singer Arisman Pongruang-rong, but the latter may easily fall victim to an anti-coup protest backlash.

Chularat Saengpassa

The Nation


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