October 27, 2007

Thai politics

DIRT is beginning to fly as Thai politics revert to pre-Thai Rak Thai-era type campaigning - a multi-party landscape marked by money and mudslinging. The Royal Decree scheduling the election for Dec 23 took effect on Thursday. That means individual candidates can start registering to contest for the 480-seat parliament from Nov 7 to 11. Parties will register their 'party list' candidates from Nov 12 to 16. These are candidates who do not run in individual constituencies, but get into Parliament on the basis of the overall number of votes that their party wins in the election. Until the last day of registration, all bets are off on the configuration of the party alliances. And even these alliances may be subjected to considerable adjustment after the election results, which analysts say will most likely to lead to a coalition government. Meanwhile, fur is already flying and the campaign looks set to be nasty. Politicians with firm support bases are said to be charging up to 40 million Baht to change parties. Ideology and personal loyalties do not count for much, says political analyst Nattakorn Devakula, pointing to the Matchima party which he describes as an 'unholy alliance' of Somsak Thepsuthin ? a former Thaksin Shinawatra loyalist ? and businessman Prachai Leophairatna ? a sworn enemy of the ousted prime minister.

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