Friday, July 29, 2011

Thai Elections

The national election took place early in July when I was in America. I was sorry to miss it. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and they elected their first woman Prime Minister. She is the sister of the previous prime minister who is currently in exile. It is expected that she will pardon him.
In late August, the local elections are held for nayoke (mayor) and council members. Today is the day (July25) that individuals can submit their intention to run. It is considered very important to turn your papers in first because your place on the ballot is determined by when you submit your completed papers. The office opens at 6 a.m. and everyone who submits by 8:30 a.m. is considered first and enters a random drawing for order on the ballot. My balat told me that candidates like to be first because some people, especially the elderly, just mark the first name - they can’t see very well!
In preparation for the elections, the current nayoke and council members up for reelection stepped down from their positions last Friday. That means for about 7 weeks (the election is in 4 and it takes a few weeks to seat the new officials) there is no nayoke and a limited council. The balat (city manager) acts as nayoke during that time. She is very funny about that and talks about all the new projects the new nayoke will do in her few weeks!

These signs are up around town and on the sides of pickups which blare who voters should support. There are two strong contingents in this area. The current nayoke and his group and the prior nayoke and his group. You see candidates roaming the streets talking to everyone. It is illegal to bribe, but apparently fairly common place!

Picking a number for his place on the ballot. This whole process of filing papers started at 6 a.m. and ended about 10 a.m. The very good news is the campaign period is only about 5 weeks. Can you even imagine how great that is!

The current nayoke arriving to file his papers with his bloc. There is a new law this year in Thailand that regulates conduct when candidates file papers to run for office. Apparently in the past, candidates would show up with drummers and dancers and lots of supporters and it frequently resulted in heated exchanges. Now, no supporters can come, only those running, no entertainment, and respectful behavior. Everyone was very nice, waiing each other.

This is my host dad. He is running for council. He has served before and is in the current nayoke's bloc. PCVs are not allowed to show preference for a particular candidate, that means no photos with them. This photo is only on my camera and of course this blog, but I am pretty sure no local voters follow my blog!

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