Excitement, focus on the economy as Thai voters brave 34 degree temperatures (PHOTOS)

 

A steady trickle of voters could be seen arriving this morning at the polling station at Prawet District, where Coconuts Bangkok was casting our own ballot in Thailand’s first general election since 2011.

Despite sweltering 34 Celsius temperatures, a healthy turnout is expected among the 51 million people eligible to exercise their voting rights at more than 92,000 polling stations in 77 provinces that opened at 8am and will stay open until 5pm.

Many we spoke with this morning expressed their excitement to be finally casting a vote after what has been a long wait.

Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media

“It’s been many years now, I’m excited to exercise my rights. I want to see a representative that’s chosen by the people. Whoever it may be,” 75-year-old Nukooon Kietsataporn said, adding that he was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of parties in the running.

“There are so many parties and so many new ones. I don’t remember who’s who. I’m just concentrating on remembering the (party) numbers.”

That seems to be the general sentiment shared by many.

“I haven’t heard of half of these parties,” we overheard one voter whisper to another while giggling.

Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media

“I’m very excited to perform by duty as a citizen today… This is my second time voting,” a 25-year-old voter asked to be identified Sapakorn told us.

Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media

When asked what issue he most wants the new prime minister to tackle, he simply said “the economy.” That answered was shared by three other voters we surveyed including 60-year-old Malay Wangam, who was wearing a colorful pink hijab for her trip to the polls.

“Definitely the economy, especially among the low-income earners. The poor people want to be able to make higher wages,” she said.

“Please come vote so we can all decide on a good leader,” she added in a message to other citizens.

Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media

First-time voter Manisara Hetagoon, 20, said she wanted the new government to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, though wasn’t feeling the same level of excitement as some of her compatriots.

“I feel normal. It’s hot today,” she said matter-of-factly.

Online, many netizens also expressed their eagerness to vote this historic day.

And despite many believing that Thailand’s military dictatorship enjoys a rigged playing field, some still hoped today’s vote as a chance to rid themselves of the junta.

“Come here my pen, let’s kill this dictatorship,” one netizen wrote somewhat poetically.

“Weapons to kill the dictatorship, ready,” another wrote.

Some came in style.

Official results for the election will be announced by May 9.

Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
Voters at a Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
A Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media
A Bangkok polling station. Photo: Teirra Kamolvattanavith/ Coconuts Media

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that official results will be announced on May 8, when it will actually be announced by May 9. 

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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