Monday, August 2, 2010

Village headman elections in Prachuap Khiri Khan

Issueing the ballot paper
Last week, in Muban 2 of Khlong Wan, Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province the village headman was about to be elected. Now there are more than 70,000 Muban in Thailand, and the term of a village headman is 5 years, so this in average on every day there are about 40 such elections, way too many to cover them on here at all. But since the above mentioned Muban is the home of expat blogger Mike from, and thus could write a first-hand experience of this most local part of the Thai democracy, first covering the campaigning and the headman tasks and then also the actual voting process. The photos on this posting are also courtesy of Mike - for more of his photos see the daily posting on his photo blog.

The election took place in the village hall on July 29, between 8 am and 3 pm. There were two candidates, the incumbent village headman had the ballot number one and his contender the number two. The polling station was manned - well, as the photos show it were actually mostly women - by officers from the subdistrict administration Khlong Wan, as well as overseen by one police officer and the returning officer from the provincial election commission. A total of 1005 citizen were eligible to vote, and the voting process did not look any different from what I am used to from here - first the identity check, then the marking of the ballot paper in the ballot booth, and finally dropping it into the ballot box. Those undemocratic ways I wrote about once seem to be only a matter of the past by now, at least for the actual voting process even for this very local election everything is done by the same standard as it is for a nation-wide election.
  • Candidate 1: Yothin Yuangboribun (นายโยธิน ยวงบริบูรณ์) received 330 votes or 58%
  • Candidate 2: Sutthisan Thasanthakdi (นายศุทธิสาร ทัศนภักดี) received 236 votes or 42%
Therefore, the incumbent village headman was confirmed in his post for another five year term.

Candidate 1, Yothin Yuangboribun
Candidate 2, Sutthisan Thasanthakdi
In the past, the post of a village headman had changed from a very unpopular to a rather popular one, since among the village headmen the subdistrict headman is elected, and that one had a lot of access to funds via the subdistrict council. An example of the dirty elections which were the result is described in the book by Daniel Arghiros. But since the introduction of the Tambon administrative organizations with their elected councils in the second half of the 1990s, the village headman returned back to mostly work and status and no access to funds. But not sure if the introduction of the village funds by Thaksin and though modified still continued till today turned the wheel in the other direction again. The salary of 8000 Baht a month, only recently raised, can't be such a big attraction to start illegal practices like vote-buying. But a deeper analysis goes beyond what a blogger can do, for such one has to delve into the scientific publications of the sociology and politics departments of the universities.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Andy very interesting especially the links to your earlier posts.

Thank you for your generous mentions and links.

Since the election I have picked up on village gossip suggesting one candidate was offering "incentives" to secure votes.

My partner also mentioned a canvasser near the polling station suggested who she might like to vote for.