thais begin PREPARATIONS FOR ELGCTiOHS NEXT YEAR
Thai military regime is making preparations to dominate next year's legislative elections although it has not yet settled differences within its own ranks.
Doputy Prime Ministerappears to be playing anactive political role. Praphat is managing an effort by the ruling military regimemasculato the Democratic Party, the only currently activegroup with significantin the country. He isan independent slate of candidates for the Bangkok elections in September in order to draw conservative but ancigovernment votes away from the Democrats and to clear the way for a government-sponsored ticket. The government hopesefeat in Bangkok, where Democratic support is strongest, will virtually destroy the party's electoral chances in next year's country-wide legislative elections.
Praphat's machinations may also be designed to further his own political ambitions. He not only expects to get the credit for defeating the Democrats in September, but he evidently is making plans to pick up tha pieces Praphat recently assured controlovernment-supportedgroup. He has flatly told his followers that he intends to use the groupehicle for a
country-wide political organization, which presumably will beto his direction.
Tne extent to which Praphat's plans dovetail with theis not entirely clear. umber of preliminary steps have been taken toarty for next year's cloction, it is clear that the differences within the ruling establishment nave not yet been ironed out. Praphat's actions may be in behalf of those hard-line elements in the government who fought against the constitution and are now apparently trying to ensure that their will dominate the new
The military leaders areconsiderable sensitivity to political requirements in an election year. ighly unpopular bus fare increase was recently rescinded, and the mayor of Bangkok whose unsavory reputation isajor political liability, has been kept out of public view.
Meanwhile, both right- and left-wing opposition groups appear to be making only desultory efforts to organize parties for noxt year's elections. At this juncture, they appear to be more interested in making deals with tho government than in arrivnlv rhullxnainq it at the polls.
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