SATURDAY, March 02, 2024
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Watanya remains firm on decision to contest Democrat leader’s seat

Watanya remains firm on decision to contest Democrat leader’s seat

Watanya Bunnag, who has set her sights on becoming the Democrat Party’s first female leader, said on Friday that she remains firm in her intention to stand for the top seat.

She said that her goal was to bring positive change to the country’s oldest political party at a time when it is facing several challenges. The changes would be for the benefit of the people, and not for the politicians involved, she added.

Watanya, 39, said that her faith in the party’s ideology was why she joined the race to become the next Democrat leader.

“I will not change my mind. I will not change my words. I want to fight to the end,” she said.

The Democrats are scheduled to select a new party leader and other executive members at a general meeting tomorrow (December 9). This is the third such meeting; the two previous ones, in July and August, failed to reach a quorum following disagreement between rival factions.

According to current party rules, a candidate for Democrat leader has to be a party member for at least five years, be an elected MP, or be a government minister nominated by the party. Watanya, who joined the Democrat Party last year and failed to get elected in the May 14 general election, will need strong support from the meeting’s participants to win exemption from the requirements.

Watanya, who heads the party’s working group on innovation, is likely to go up against one or two Democrat veterans – either acting party leader and secretary general Chalermchai Srion or acting deputy secretary-general Narapat Kaeothong.

Watanya remains firm on decision to contest Democrat leader’s seat

On Thursday evening, 21 out of 25 Democrat MPs voted to support Chalermchai as the new party leader. They agreed that the party needed him to work with relevant groups in dealing with its crisis.

When his supporters informed him of their decision, Chalermchai told them he would need a day or two to decide whether to join the race for the top party job, senior Democrat MP Pramuan Pongthawaradej said today.

Before this year’s general election, Chalermchai said that he would quit politics if the Democrats won fewer than the 52 MP seats that they gained in 2019. However, his supporters argued that Chalermchai made the vow in a bid to protect the party at a time of crisis rather than for his own benefit.
 

Meanwhile, Narapat, who was backed by Chalermchai’s faction as its candidate to become a new Democrat leader, said on Friday that if most other party MPs support Chalermchai, he would join them for the sake of unity.

“But if Chalermchai decides not to contest, I will go ahead in the race for the party leadership,” Narapat said.

Under party rules, Democrat MPs control 70% of the votes and non-MP party members only 30%.

Watanya remains firm on decision to contest Democrat leader’s seat

In a related development, former Democrat leader Chuan Leekpai said today that he was not surprised by the decision of those 21 MPs to nominate Chalermchai as the next party leader.

“There’s nothing unusual in that at all. At many previous party meetings, they said it is up to the secretary-general who will be voted in as party leader. That’s because the secretary-general has taken good care of them for four years,” Chuan said.

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