Well, the first straw poll has occurred. It has raised several questions and ended several questions. Let’s consider some:
Is the race over? Ban Ki-moon got 12 “encouraging” votes and one discouraging. We don’t know if that one was from Japan (highly likely) or from a P5 country. If Japan, the game is essentially over. It is unlikely that we will find a candidate with more support.
Will candidates drop out and more enter? There is a distinct possibility, which Bolton raised in his press briefing:
the various candidates consider what the votes were compared with what
they received there may now be decisions either for additional
candidates to enter the race or for one or more candidates in the race
to drop out.
But who? Sathirathai and ASEAN have been quite vocal that he will stay in the race. There has been little activity from Dhanapala. Either one of them dropping out raises the possibility of new candidates emerging. Indeed, one Australian article has characterized this as “Goh’s chance”, if only Sathirathai were to leave the race. Later, a Thai paper, reporting from the ASEAN Ministerial, reported that “The Singaporean government had informed the five permanent members of the Security Council that former prime minister Goh Chok Tong would not run for the post”. And Dhanapala’s leaving might just result in a Deva candidacy. Not to mention the other array of candidates.
What happens next? Dhanapala will regroup or drop out. Sathirathai will “campaign harder”. Ban and Shashi really have their work cut out for them. Because of Ban’s success on the first ballot, Shashi will need to resolve any of his structural problems. It is certainly possible to have a 13-2 versus 13-2 deadlock or somesuch, requiring other candidates to emerge. Finally, new information could emerge. We still have strong concerns about Ban, which may yet come to the fore.