Candidates register for 1st Thai general election since coup

BANGKOK (AP) – Candidates in Thailand’s first general election since the military seized power in 2014 have begun registering, as supporters wave banners and chant slogans in public political activity that until recently was illegal.

Hundreds of candidates from dozens of parties crammed into an indoor stadium yesterday to officially enter the race and draw lots for the numbers that will go alongside their names on ballots.

Enthusiasm for a return to democracy is high, but is tempered with an awareness that new election rules handicap the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which has easily won every national election since 2001.

The Thaksin-affiliated Pheu Thai Party’s main challenger in the March 24 polls is expected to be the Palang Pracharat Party, widely considered a proxy for the military.