Pattaya Daily News

12 August 2006 :: 19:08:48 pm 30101

The opposition tunes into TV ads to battle Thaksin

The analysts say politicians are changing the way they spend their money, and point to a high-priced television ad blitz run by the opposition Democrat Party as its launches its battle to unseat Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in October 15 polls.
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Party spokesman Ong-art Klampaiboon said television advertising was the only effective way to reach people across the country.
The party has blanketed the airwaves with images of the telegenic Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva spending time with his family or visiting poor voters in rural Thailand.

Ong-art said the party was initially reluctant to embrace television advertising because of high costs, but finally decided there was no better way to get its message out.
The voiceovers outline the party‘s populist policies such as free health care and education, and try to build his image as a reliable family man.

“We want to tell people about our main policy ideas,” the party spokesman said.
“It is to show that the party is ready to run for the election, ready to become the government,” Ong-art said, but declined to say how much the party was spending on the ads.
    Thaksin‘s Thai Rak Thai was the first party to experiment with television advertising, using it to promote his first run for prime minister in 2001 and winning the hearts of long-ignored rural voters by promising to improve their livelihoods.
    Before 2001, Thai election campaigns tended to play to regional loyalties, and emphasized management strategies or leadership skills rather than promises to voters.
    The Democrat Party boycotted Thailand‘s last election on April 2, which Thaksin had called early to end months of street protests demanding his resignation over corruption allegations.
    Thai Rak Thai party won the vote, but the victory was undermined by the boycott. The courts have since invalidated the elections, and new polls are set for October 15.
    The political parties had used television ads in the past, but not as widely as the Democrats are doing now.
    “This is a new style of political campaigning. It‘s possible that the other parties will do the same thing,” Varakorn Samakoses, president of Dhurakij Pundit University, said.
So far Thaksin has not returned to the airwaves in this campaign, choosing instead to tour the rural areas that make up his support base.
    The shift toward television and other modern campaigning techniques may actually be reducing the amount of money that Thai parties spend on elections, according to the Kasikorn Research Center.
    In the 2005 election, campaign spending fell to 15 billion baht (398 million dollars) from 25 billion baht in 2001, it said. “Due to the development of telecommunications, political campaigns are adapting to new forms of marketing,” it said. “Most of the money was spent on advertising campaigns.”
    Varakorn said the shift toward spending money on campaign ads was not a bad thing, as long as they helped the public understand a party‘s policies.
    “The spots answer some questions for people who want to know what the opposition‘s leader has done during his career,” Varakorn said.
Sompob Manarangsan of Thailand‘s top Chulalongkorn University, said he was more worried about what the parties said rather than the media they used to say it.
“The content is more important than the format,”he said.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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