The battle to win over millions of first-time and undecided Thai voters is now increasingly being fought online as the military-run government bans campaigning ahead of a general election expected next year. New and established parties and even junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha are vying for attention on platforms ranging from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the Line messaging service. The contest is set to intensify as the military government that seized power in 2014 prepares to finally hold an election on Feb 24. While the junta in September eased its ban on political activity, allowing parties to raise money and elect leaders, electoral campaigning and political gatherings of more than five people continued to be prohibited.
As political parties wait for it to be fully scrapped, they are going online.
“There’s an opening for everybody, because there’s a group of seven million first-time voters,” former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, said in an interview in Bangkok.
“They’re largely undecided. We’re specifically addressing this group. We’re using social media – but not breaking the junta order of not campaigning online.”