The race is on for Bangkok’s next governor

Campaigning is underway. Fourteen candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to become Bangkok’s next governor in an election scheduled for May 22. Early opinion polls show the frontrunner is an independent, but more than a quarter of potential voters are undecided.

To tourists around the world, Bangkok conjures up images of romance and adventure. As a cosmopolitan destination, it is incomparable ranked as “the world’s most visited city” several times in recent years. While for the nearly 11 million Thais and expats who call it home and love living there, Bangkok is like most big cities around the world that could be quite complex to govern.

Not least because the pace of change in the Thai capital during recent decades has been breathtaking. Half a century ago, Bangkok resembled more of a big town than one of the world’s great cities: skyscrapers were few, canals were numerous, markets were old style, and mass transit consisted mainly of river boats and buses.

In 1999, after years of construction, the Skytrain opened to become the capital’s first commuter rail line. Since then, more elevated train routes have been added as well as the MRT Subway system, which is also spreading to more districts and neighborhoods. With increased mobility, the appeal of Krungthep, as the Thais call it, has been steadily rising. Bigger bus terminals and new airports have also been added. All that means more and more people are migrating to Bangkok, which is also the economic center of the Kingdom, every year.

That places more demands on the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the city’s government, in terms of managing the metropolis and to provide bigger and better services to meet the growing needs of its expanding population.

Residents of the capital have shown a more independent streak when it comes to choosing their governor. Their main concerns center around quality of life, and who would be most able to deliver on promised improvements.

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