Through various conversations during my short time here, I have been learning about how local government and decision making works at different levels. Each village has a headman/woman who gets elected every four years, and there are a number of different committees drawn up on a voluntary basis that deal with various aspects of village activity, health, infrastructure, anti drug policies etc. Each village meets whenever there is something to discuss that affects everyone .
At the next level, a group of villages, a sub-district, will share a first aid clinic and a local administrative office, whose chief is elected directly every four years along with two people from each village who will work part time as and when required. Mae Wang district, for example, has five of these sub-districts, one of which is our own Mae Win, and is itself one of 25 districts that make up Chiang Mai province.
Last week’s election in the Mae Wang subdistricts saw a turnout in excess of 70% with most of non voters being those still registered here but who have moved away for various reasons. Each village managed its own voting arrangements, the counting was done in public after polls closed at 3pm, by the evening all the village results were in and the winning candidate was declared. All candidates stand independently of political parties.
I was quite impressed by the interest most people took in the results, and it was funny to see people we know from working together on our project in their “official” capacity as election clerks, as always plenty of food was available for anyone that wanted some. The winning candidate, as it happens, is from our village, her main job will be to allocate government funding to various projects, I am hoping for some pothole repairs.