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Thai Politicians Jockey For Position With Eye On Upcoming Poll


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Politicians jockey for position with eye on upcoming poll

By Avudh Panananda

The Nation

BANGKOK: -- Although the poll date is not set, politicians have already started to put out feelers, jockeying to get the best possible start for when an election is announced.

Once campaign preparations are underway, political jitters are bound to rise because the coalition and the opposition camps are in a "fluid" state. The composition of the next coalition is likely to remain a big uncertainty until the voting outcome is known.

Even if the two major parties, Democrat and Pheu Thai, can manage to achieve a clear victory over the other, formation of a ruling coalition is still a thorny issue given small parties want to try to carve out the best deal possible for themselves.

Events in recent weeks are like a curtain raiser for the upcoming negotiations among the political parties.

The Bhum Jai Thai Party is the first to get a head-start for the next poll. It has floated the idea of an amnesty bill for those involved in protests in 2008 and 2009. On the surface, reconciliation is cited as the rationale for the amnesty but in reality the junior coalition party is trying to test its strongholds in the Northeast and check on its future under a Democrat-led coalition.

A signature campaign to back the bill is a way to gauge the readiness of vote canvassers and the sentiment of local voters. Due to the red shirts' domination in the Northeast, the Bhum Jai Thai push to expand its support in large provinces like Khon Kaen has not made much headway. So it needs to map out a new campaign strategy in order to woo votes.

It is no secret that the Democrat-Bhum Jai Thai alliance is a marriage of convenience. The amnesty bill, opposed by the Democrats, is a handy leverage to prove the junior partner is not an underdog of the main coalition party.

Coalition partners from the Newin Chidchob faction have sent a strong signal to the Democrats via the amnesty bill that they remain a force to reckon with and that they won't be shoved aside after the main coalition party stole their thunder in relation to the high-speed train project, which would run through the Northeast.

The junior coalition party has made it clear it is ready to work with the main opposition party to push through the amnesty. The Democrats would make a gross misjudgement if they rule out the possibility of Bhum Jai Thai linking back up with Pheu Thai.

In his last interview, early this month, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra side-stepped a direct question on the issue without confirming or denying such a team-up.

Another junior coalition partner, Chart Thai Pattana Party, is also gearing for a role in the next coalition, be it under the Democrats or Pheu Thai. Its faction leader Banharn Silapa-Archa recently portrayed his party as a small ant with strong bite.

After the party's Sonthaya Kunplome faction from Chon Buri defected to Bhum Jai Thai, a fierce, three-way race is expected among Chart Thai Pattana, Democrat and Bhum Jai Thai to woo votes in the Central region.

It was a well-planned move and not a surprise that Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart paid a prison visit yesterday to red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua, who is being held in remand on charges related to terrorism and the red-shirt violence. The Chart Thai Pattana Party is well known as the "political eel" in recognition of the party's slippery capacity to swap sides.

The Pheu Thai Party last week underwent a restructuring, billed as an advance preparation for the next poll.

The Democrats may be projecting a firm stand to complete the remaining term of more than one year. But when push comes to shove, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has revealed his ambition to lead the party for a second term in office.

The question is, what will his next coalition look like?


-- The Nation 2010-09-21

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Jockeying for position, but the game is played with chairs (i.e. "Musical Chairs").

Liked by politicians, gives them the opportunity to practice the use of elbows, stepping on others tows, slight pushes and the like.

We will also be able to read the most absurd claims, promises, etc. And cases of "short term memory loss", don't quote me on what I said yesterday ;)

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Politicians jockey for position with eye on upcoming poll

This amused me for one second - the thought of all the politicians on starters orders, dressed in different shirts trying to get over the hurdles and water jump!! OR just to see how high they can jump - (jockeys)

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