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Democrats dominate city vote

Posted by arnon_k On August - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

New Politics shut out in councillor elections

The ruling Democrat Party has cemented its status as the most popular party in Bangkok after its candidates handily outperformed the opposition in local elections.

The New Politics Party failed to win a single seat in yesterday’s polls.

The Democrats followed their success in last month’s by-election in Bangkok by winning more seats than the Puea Thai Party and the NPP, the political arm of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, in city and district council elections.

The Election Commission for Bangkok estimated the voter turnout at 42%.

City clerk and director of the Bangkok EC office Charoenrat Chutikarn said bad weather, not an ineffective EC campaign, was to blame for the low turnout.

A survey held on election day showed that 98% of people were aware of the poll and 80% of them said they would vote, he said.

“The BMA will look at the reasons why voters paid little attention to local elections,” he said.

The Democrats last month won a by-election in Constituency 6, in Bangkok’s outer eastern suburbs, which saw Panich Vikitsreth win a seat in parliament.

Most Democrat incumbents held on to their seats on city and district councils yesterday.

Democrat MP for Bangkok Natthapol Theepsuwan, who is in charge of the party’s campaigning in the city, said the poll results were in line with party projections.

But Ong-art Klampaibul, an adviser to the Democrats on the Bangkok elections, cautioned people against assuming the results would portend a decisive victory for the party in a national election.

“This election does not reflect what would happen in the next general election,” said Mr Ong-art, who also serves as the PM’s office minister.

“Voters in the council elections made their decisions based on individual candidates, while in general elections, voters tend to cast ballots for particular parties.”

The Democrats were still weak in the capital’s outlying districts such as Phasicharoen and Bang Na, Mr Natthapol said.

The most disappointed party was the NPP, which failed to secure a single seat in its first set of elections.

Deputy leader Samran Rodpetch blamed the party’s defeat on low voter turnout.

“Had 60 or 70 percent of citizens gone to vote, I believe we would have had a chance to win,” he said.

Mr Samran said the low voter turnout reflected the public’s disenchantment with politics.

But he said his party would not be deterred by its poor showing yesterday. It would regroup to address problem areas before the next general election and the next Bangkok governor poll.

NPP secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila hoped the “silent majority” would make their presence felt once general elections were called.

He said the party must learn from yesterday’s results.

“We started [campaigning] a bit late. Voters were still not familiar with our candidates,” he said.

Puea Thai MP for Bangkok Vicharn Meenchainant, who oversaw the opposition party’s campaigning in the city, said the party was disappointed not to win at least 15 seats, as it had projected. Puea Thai had more work to do if it wanted to win over Bangkok voters in the next general election, Mr Vicharn said.

The city councillor elections took place in all 50 districts in Bangkok, while the district councillor polls took place in 36.

Only the votes in Din Daeng district had yet to be counted as of last night because of a Puea Thai protest over suspected voting irregularities.

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