election

Facts destroy the vote-buying myth

Numnual  Yapparat

New research has revealed the truth about how Thai people vote in an election. The research was conducted by Associate Professor Siripan Nogsuan from Chulalongkorn University on the 2011 election. The results are a slap in the face to the Democrat Party and their well-educated middle class supporters.

According to the excuses that the Democrats and their right-wing academics love to use, the votes of the poor, especially among people in the North and North-East, were just bought by Pua Thai and Thai Rak Thai because these villagers are supposedly “uneducated”. But the results of the research show that only 10% would vote for a party that gave them money. On the other hand, 90% of voters would use their own judgement on who to vote for based on party policies.

The research also confirmed that there are problems with just throwing money at voters. Interestingly, politicians who tried to buy votes with huge amounts of money did not win. Vote buying was only significant in a few constituencies where support for the 2 major parties was roughly equal. But in most constituencies, parties won by large majorities which could not be explained by vote-buying, even if it took place. In addition to this, the 2010 bloodshed committed against protesters in Bangkok by the Democrats, lost the party many votes among the well-educated.

Generally speaking, the results of the research are not new at all; academics who have studied Thai politics have said that Thai Rak Thai made a fundamental change to elections because they offered concrete policies to people, whereas the Democrat Party used only empty political slogans. A good example is the research in northern villages by Andrew Walker [“The rural constitution and the everyday politics” in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, 2008].

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