Now that there are 47 days left before the election ― Thailand’s 26th and by far the most important at this political juncture ― just look at the ways various contesting parties are positioning themselves to win or cheat votes. They will be like the spaghetti-western movies ― the good, the bad and the ugly. There are plenty of the last two groups already.
In the past few days, quite a few alarming trends need to be discerned associated with the ongoing political campaigns. First of all, there will be a lot of mudslinging among parties and their candidates. The trick is to say the most outrageous things of the day so that the media will pick up and use them in their daily reports and broadcasts ― to dominate the headlines of all media with the aim of generating debate among TV hosts and on dailies’ front pages. The longer it lasts, the better. It does not matter whether it is accurate or ridiculous.
The second trend is the oft-made claim by politicians of winning more seats in the coming election. This has become a preferred tactic these days. Anyone can come out and say that his party or candidates will win the majority and by how many seats. It is a ridiculous claim through and through. Thai voters are the most fickle group of people. They vote freely and sometimes with emotion.
Undoubtedly, this election will witness the use of social media to promote candidates, especially in urban areas. Twitter, Facebook and SMS will become pivotal weapons for parties and politicians to put forward their views and connect with voters. Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra is using his IT knowledge and spin teams with heavy financial backing to ensure his party, Pheu Thai, will score big in the election.
The role of the Election Commission is crucial. Throughout Thailand’s modern political history, the role and responsibility of the election commission has often been controversial because of the watchdog’s far-reaching authority to prevent politicians from winning and achieving their aims.
In this election, a lot of allegations will be heard ― so EC officials must perform their jobs with righteousness. Most importantly, they have to refrain from making dubious remarks. Certain EC members have commented on political matters, sometimes creating more confusion.
Finally, it will be the media that will add fuel to the fire of all the above factors. Every politician and everybody involved in the election will hunger for media attention. The media has been gearing up for the battle at the polls. There will be more advertising revenues and accusations of political bias.
Once again, the role of the media will come under public scrutiny. Every time the country faces a crisis, such as the one witnessed in 2009, the media sets the agenda of the day. Journalists, bloggers, tweeters, citizen journalists and accidental witnesses are now sending off millions of words of information. And no filtering, whatsoever.
(Editorial, The Nation (Thailand))
(Asia News Network)