The last election of this type in the metropolis dates back to 2013.

A year later, the army chief, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, seized power in the kingdom in a coup, ousted the governor and appointed one of his men in his place.

The ballot, in one round, is a test for the putschist general, legitimized by controversial legislative elections in 2019 and unpopular with a youth eager for freedom. He completes his mandate next March, so general elections must be held by then.

During the campaign, the main contenders focused on the daily concerns of Bangkokians, promising to make the ultra-polluted and congested megalopolis of some 10 million inhabitants more pleasant to live in.

Many remain skeptical. “I am not enthusiastic about the elections. They will hardly change the city,” Nat, 28, told AFP after casting his ballot in the ballot box.

4.4 million Bangkokians are called to vote, including some 700,000 first-time voters who could vote in number for candidates opposed to the government.

Since the coups of 2006 and 2014, Thai politics has been polarized between pro- and anti-army parties.

The thirty or so suitors to lead the capital, a record, reflect this schism.

Aswin Kwanmuang, installed by Prayut Chan-O-Cha in the governor’s chair in 2016, is a candidate.

Facing him, Chadchart Sittipunt, is the favorite.

He presents himself without a label, but has long been a major figure in Pheu Thai, the opposition party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. And since Pheu Thai is not presenting any candidate, some observers doubt its real independence.

The megalopolis is very different from most of the kingdom, poorer, more agricultural and less educated.

But for Thitinan Pongsudhirak, professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, “the choice of governor will be an interesting barometer for future general elections” given the context of recent years.

In 2020, major pro-democracy demonstrations shook the kingdom, with protesters demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, the rewriting of the Constitution deemed too favorable to the army and an in-depth reform of the all-powerful monarchy, a taboo subject. until there.

The results of the gubernatorial election could fall on Sunday evening and will have to be ratified by the electoral commission.