Dressed in a Superman suit with a red cape flowing behind him, a sweaty David Pfizenmaier jogs through Bangkok’s standstill traffic and stops to unfurl a sign. “If you love Thailand: Vote,” it says, below the hashtag #supermanbangkok.
Thais go to the polls this weekend for the first time since a coup in 2014.
Not batting for any party
The 40-year-old Thai-German said on Thursday that he is not campaigning for a specific party, but is instead on a mission to boost turnout, especially among younger voters, “because the military government is not the solution for the long term”.
There are 51 million eligible voters, including more than seven million first-timers aged 18-25. And enthusiasm for taking part in the democratic process is already clear. At least 87% of Thais registered for advance voting showed up, according to the Asian Network for Free Elections. In his quest to lift numbers, Mr. Pfizenmaier has spread his message at universities, sidewalks and busy intersections, carrying a Thai flag and posing for countless selfies. “I hope I can convince some people to do their duty as citizens and help to move the country forward,” he said.
Mr. Pfizenmaier works in the travel industry and has used the red-and-blue suit before in charity events.
At rush hour in Bangkok on Thursday, he took advantage of the city’s long traffic lights to walk between motorbikes and cars, flashing a grin and holding up his sign.
After about 30 minutes only one person said he was not voting. Others gave him thumbs up, high-fives, nodded their heads yes, or shook his hand.
One voter named Thirawi told him he had already voted, casting a ballot in the northern city of Chiang Mai. “Superman thanks you!” Mr. Pfizenmaier responded.