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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Opposition figures easily win Bangkok governor’s election

BANGKOK ( Associated Press) – Residents of Thailand’s capital Bangkok have elected an independent politician to represent opponents of the country’s military-backed government, in their first opportunity to vote for their city’s governor in nine years. It is seen, the results released early Monday show.

Chadchart Sittipunt was widely predicted to top the region by opinion polls, taking 1,386,215 votes, or about 52% of the 2,673,696 votes cast in Sunday’s election, according to a virtually complete but unproven return. Went a long way.

He competed in a field of 31 candidates, with a turnout of just under 61 percent.

Chadchart, 55, although running as an independent, was seen by both supporters and opponents as a proxy for the Phu Thai Party, the main opposition group in parliament. He served as Minister of Transport in the Phaeu Thai government in 2012–2014, and stood as one of the party’s prime ministerial candidates in the 2019 general election.

“Now that we’ve got an order from the people, I’ll start working immediately, visiting communities and regions to see where I can start my job as governor,” Chadchart told reporters on Monday morning. I can.” “I have a young, energetic team that is eager to move forward.”

Independent candidates, seen as stand-ins for the ruling Palang Pracharath party, finished a weak fifth in the race. Former Bangkok governor Ashwin Kwanmuang, a retired senior police officer, came fifth with 214,692 votes, or about 8% of the vote cast.

Aswin, 71, was appointed governor in 2016 by Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power as an army commander in a 2014 coup and sacked the previous governor over corruption charges. Prayuth was returned to office as Prime Minister. After the 2019 election in a coalition government led by the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party.

Prayuth, who has been accused of sabotaging the response to the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to soon face a no-confidence motion in parliament, and rivals on his own side have long been rumored to oust him. Even if he survives, there should be a general election early next year.

Thitinen Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said before the vote that it was the first significant election since the 2014 coup.

“People are hungry to say no,” he said in an email to the Associated Press. “The consequences, if this explicitly goes against the ruling bedrock, will be consequential for Parliament, Prayuth and distrust.”

While the Bangkok election results are discouraging for Prayuth and the ruling party, they are not the death knell.

While there were ideological reasons influencing many voters, Chadchart is one of the country’s most charismatic politicians, who ran a vigorous campaign compared to the relatively colorless bureaucrat Aswin.

More significantly, voters in Bangkok do not necessarily reflect nationwide trends in Thailand, whose voters are largely rural. The ruling Palang Pracharath Party was able to mobilize many rural voters in the 2019 election with the help of influential local and provincial political masters.

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