The Democrat Party has decided to field incumbent Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra to run for a second term and is confident he will win the gubernatorial election on February 17, party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday.
Sukhumbhand’s selection was the result of infighting within the Democrat Party leadership, a senior party source said yesterday.
Democrat Party members are “puzzled” by the party resolution preferring Sukhumbhand over party deputy leader and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, a candidate seen as more likely to win the race, the source added.
Former party secretary-general Suthep Thuagsuban, who has conflicts with current secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on, is seen as wanting to disrupt Chalermchai’s activities within the party. Chalermchai is known to be unhappy over what he sees as Sukhumbhand’s failure to participate in or devote time to the party.
“Suthep lobbied party executives to support Sukhumbhand, who later won the voting 9-6 [over Korn] – despite knowing that the Democrat Party has a smaller chance of winning by nominating Sukhumbhand – simply because he knows that Chalermchai doesn’t want Sukhumbhand,” the source said.
The selection of Sukhumbhand followed more than four hours of debate by the party’s 19-member executive committee, chaired by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Banyat Bantadtan, chairman of a committee tasked with shortlisting candidates, presented a report summarising the strengths and weaknesses of four potential candidates: Apichai Techa-ubol, a former vice minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office; Korbsak Sabhavasu, a former prime minister’s secretary-general; Prakorb Jirakitti, a former Bangkok deputy governor; and Sukhumbhand.
At the meeting, party deputy leader Alongkorn Polla-butr nominated Korn as an additional candidate.
Sources said Sukhumbhand won the nomination by clinching nine votes, with six going to Korn, one to Prakorb and one to Korbsak, while Abhisit and Korn abstained.
Among those voting for Sukhumbhand were party deputy leader Juti Krairerk, deputy leader Siriwan Prassajaksatru, deputy leader Thaworn Senneam and Anchalee Wanittheppabut.
The six executive members who reportedly voted for Korn included Chalermchai.
Abhisit will officially announce the party’s decision at a press conference today, Chavanond said.
Upon learning of the decision, Sukhumbhand thanked the party for trusting him to run for a second term. He said he had drawn up a policy platform on which to campaign for re-election, but wanted to discuss it with the party before publicly announcing it.