In the days since Chadchart Sittipunt overwhelmingly won the Bangkok gubernatorial election, it has become fashionable for pundits to say that this represents a victory for moderate politics in Thailand.
A Bangkok Post editorial announced that “the result serves as a huge victory for people of a moderate political stance…voters made it clear they are fed up with color-coded conflicts.”
The Economist argued that voters “overwhelmingly supported a moderate candidate with conciliatory views.”
A headline in the Khrungthep Thurakij proclaimed that Chadchart’s win represents “a politics where people are bored of ‘sides.’”
Meanwhile, Komchadluek said that the people are “tired of political conflict and are no longer attached to ideology.”
As political earthquakes go, Chadchart’s victory would rank high on the richter scale. Against a crowded and qualified field, he won over fifty percent of the vote. The democratic mandate as bestowed by the people of Bangkok is unmistakable.
But beyond that, what sort of signal did this political earthquake truly send? Is it true that his win represents the victory of political moderation, of a certain sort of Thai centrism?