Pheu Thai to Stage Bangkok’s First Full-Blown Election Rally

Pheu Thai candidate Chadchart Sittipunt, immortalized by internet memes as 'World's Strongest Transport Minister,' greets supporters at a rally Jan. 18 in Kalasin.

BANGKOK — Bangkok will see its first outdoor election rally this afternoon, when candidates from the Pheu Thai Party take the stage in front of City Hall.

The rally comes as contests in the capital – where about 4 million voters are registered – is growing more intense by the day. Pheu Thai, which is aligned with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is also fighting for its survival after a court took up a case to disband its sister party.

It was not announced who will speak at the gathering, but Pheu Thai prime minister candidates Sudarat Keyuraphan, Chadchart Sittipunt and Chaikasem Nitisiri are expected to make appearances.

Campaign rallies are a major instrument for political parties canvassing for votes, as they usually draw thousands of people and broad media coverage. It’s also a chance to make one’s case for party policies and lambast opponents, much to the relish of political news junkies.

No outdoor election rally has been held in the heart of the capital so far. The Phalang Pracharat and Democrat parties held indoor rallies in the suburbs earlier this month. Phalang Pracharat, which supports junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha, is holding an outdoor rally west of Bangkok today in Kanchanaburi province.

Also today, Chart Pattana Party’s prime minister candidate Suwat Liptapanlop is also campaigning in the capital. Led by Suwat, the party’s candidates walked through Lumphini Park this morning and greeted park-goers.

Although Chart Pattana is thought to be the strongest in the northeast, party leader Suwat said he wanted to show Bangkokians he cares about their issues.

Meanwhile, Bangkok-born Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party is in the northeast today. While campaigning in Korat last night, the businessman-turned-politician was greeted by a youthful crowd shouting “Sky loves daddy,” a reference to a recent social media trend.

But Pheu Thai ally Thai Raksa Chart announced today it has suspended all campaigning. In a statement, Thai Raksa Chart said its key members have to focus on contesting its dissolution before the Constitutional Court on charges it violated election law by nominating a former princess one week ago.

The Election Commission yesterday also warned parties campaigning in the capital to ensure their posters are properly placed without blocking pedestrians or their view of traffic.

At a Thursday news conference, the commission’s director for Bangkok, Wichuda Mekhanuwong, said her office heard a recent complaint that a student was injured after walking into a campaign poster’s wooden frame protruding into the pavement.

Parties responsible for posters found in violation will receive notices to remove them within five days, Wichuda said. If they fail to do so, the Election Commission will dismantle them and charge the party for the work.

Election Day is March 24.