A record number of expat Thais have registered to vote in this weekend’s national election.
An article in the June 29 edition of Thailand’s Nation newspaper reports that 147,300 overseas-based Thais have registered – a sizeable 62 percent increase from the 90,205 registrations gathered in 2008.
While a high overseas turnout was anticipated for the first election to be called since the riots and near civil war in Bangkok last year, social media platforms have also played an important role in raising awareness and providing voter information to Thai citizens and communities around the world.
Campaigning videos posted on YouTube and user-friendly election education materials and links compiled on facebook.com/ove2554 (Overseas Election 2554) have complimented traditional information sharing channels such as group emails, expat newsletters, posters and flyers.
In Bangkok and other major centers however, the pre-election messaging and branding battle has been at its most intense at street level rather than online.
Street posters and banners erected by the various parties have attracted plenty of media coverage – in particular, controversial vote-no posters put up by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD – the ultra-yellows).
PAD supporters (comprising many former Democrat Party backers) despise the incumbent Democrats and the Pheu Thai Party, the red-shirt challenger, in equal measure.
To express their disproval, the PAD posters featured animals including dogs, tigers, monkeys, buffalos, monitor lizards to graphically illustrate their no-vote stance to prevent the “Democrat and Pheu Thai animals” from entering parliament.
Another poster villain is Chuwit Kamolvisit. Banners of this former massage parlour tycoon – who is campaigning on an anti-corruption platform – are all over the city. They are less than flattering especially the one where looks like a crazed baby kidnapper.
Whatever the outcome on Sunday night the future, as a local analyst suggested, will probably be a mix of no change, chaos ahead and new beginnings. Or in local parlance, “same, same, but different.”[Image Source]