Thailand's largest opposition party, Puea Thai, has promised to create a special administrative zone in the south, if it wins Sunday's election.
The ruling Democrats have traditionally been well supported in the south, but the government has failed to reduce the violence there.
This election could see a larger slice of the Muslim vote go to other parties, as a first step in having a greater say in their own destiny.
Armed Muslim groups have been fighting for independence from predominantly Buddhist Thailand since 2004.
Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay reports from Pattani, southern Thailand.