The 2022 Bangkok gubernatorial election, which saw independent candidate Chadchart Sittipunt win by a landslide, looks set to change Thailand’s politics in a big way.

Calls for the right to elect governors in other provinces across the country have grown amid the immense media focus on the Bangkok gubernatorial race.

At present, only voters in the capital are permitted to elect their governor, while all other provinces must accept governors appointed by the Interior Ministry.

The Bangkok election impacts are now being felt not just in the capital but also in many other parts of the country.  “Bangkok’s political maturity has risen significantly with this election and the capital looks set to become a political model for local administrations elsewhere,” said Asst Prof Dr. Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a lecturer at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law.

Asst Prof Tavida Kamolvej, dean of Thammasat University’s Faculty of Political Science, said that by electing their governor, Bangkokians had developed a sense of co-ownership in politics.

 “They have become more politically engaged and active. Also, they feel like they own the policies they have supported,” she said.

Two recent surveys conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) indicated that the majority of people living in provinces also want to elect their governor.

In the first survey, conducted between April 18 and 20, more than 66 percent of respondents wanted an elected provincial governor instead of an appointed one.

In the second one, which sought voters’ opinions from May 2 to 4, the majority of respondents said they were ready to vote for their governor. About a fifth of the respondents demanded provincial governor elections nationwide, while 33.97 percent said an elected governor would respond better to the needs of locals.

“People living in other big cities have started asking why they are not allowed to choose their own governor,” Asst Prof Olarn Thinbangtieo, of Burapha University’s Faculty of Political Science said. “Soon, people in small provinces will ask the same question. If Phuket has an elected governor, then [southern neighbor] Songkhla will definitely want one too.”

Assoc Prof Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee, who teaches at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, agreed that the Bangkok election had spurred a desire in other provinces to vote for their governors.

While the academic does not think gubernatorial elections will be allowed in other provinces anytime soon, she said, “The government will finally feel the ripples.”