Bangkok poll critical for government, ex-Premier Thaksin
By Avudh Panananda ,The Nation/Asia News NetworkBANGKOK -- The March 3 vote will be a litmus test on whether fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will come home or end up in permanent exile.
February 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Bangkok voters are going to cast their ballots to elect their next governor and their voice will, in turn, send a subtle message on Thaksin's fate.
At Thaksin's intervention, the Pheu Thai bigwigs put their differences aside to rally behind their gubernatorial candidate, Pongsapat Pongcharoen.
In a month of campaigning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been very active in swaying votes for Pongsapat as if she were waging a proxy war to fly the Pheu Thai flag in the capital.
She knows her brother Thaksin has a personal stake in the race.
Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is campaigning hard for the re-election of his fellow Democrat MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, even though the two rarely speak to each other.
As we enter the final two weeks of the race, the Democrats have been mobilizing all resources to convince voters that a Pongsapat victory would be tantamount to condoning Thaksin and the political violence that engulfed the capital in 2010.
In other words, the Democrats' campaign strategy, led by Abhisit and Sukhumbhand, has been designed to achieve victory by playing up the sentiment against Thaksin.
Should Sukhumbhand claim victory, the underlying meaning will be that Bangkok residents still hold Thaksin in contempt.
Under this scenario, the central government will face an uphill battle fought under the pretext of amnesty and reconciliation to bring Thaksin home.
Thaksin, Yingluck and their three strategists, Somchai Wongsawat, Phumtham Wechayachai and Suranand Vejjajiva, are fully aware how important the voice of the urban middle class is.