Sunday, June 3, 2012
Update: Chiang Mai By-Election
The Chiang Mai by-election for Constituency 3 took place on Saturday, with Puea Thai (PT) trying to hold onto its seat after former MP Channicha Wongsuwat was removed by the courts for false asset declaration. The by-election turned out to be more off a side-show, as most media were focused on the battle between the government and opposition over the amnesty and charter amendment bills.
The favorite, PT candidate Kasem Nimmonrat, lived up to expectations and soundly defeated the Democrat and Puea Pandin candidates. Kasem won with 72,385 votes versus Democrat candidate Kulliyakorn Jiamkittiwattana's 18,975 and Puea Pandin candidate Anucha Rungtranon's 1,124 votes.
Take Away: This race was a blowout, and perhaps unsurprisingly given the strong connections PT has to the province and constituency (Thaksin, Yingluck, Yaowapha). It appears as well that the vast majority of red shirts came out in support of the PT candidate, showing that there aren't severe cracks in the PT-red shirt alliance, at least in Chiang Mai. However, there was one stat that caught my eye: Saturday's vote had 16,065 or 6.04% "no votes", whereas in 2011 there were only 2,931 "no votes" or 2.1%. Would be interesting to know where the big increase came from? @tumbler_p (any insights?) Are these reds?
Voter turnout was lower this time around at 73.65%, versus 86.62% in 2011, leaving PT with 9,065 fewer votes and the Democrats 3,074. It was a by-election so lower turnout is not unexpected. PT's share of the vote rose slightly to 78.2% from 77.3% in 2011, while the Democrat's fell slightly from 20.9% to 20.5% (excluding no votes and spoiled ballots).
Not mentioned in the last post, but possibly noteworthy, is that "Ann", the Democrat candidate, is the wife of Terdsak Jiamkijwattana, also known as "Tong Wihok", a local yellow shirt leader and a community radio host. Terdsak's father Settha was killed in a knife attack in Chiang Mai during a rally by the red shirts in 2008, according to the Bangkok Post.
Overall, a terrible result for the Democrats, especially after they sent their biggest national politicians to Chiang Mai to support the candidate. In fairness, the Democrats didn't really have a chance to begin with, but you have to wonder about their candidate selection. Perhaps a moderate, not directly linked to the yellow shirts, would have served them better in this area. You also have to wonder if former PM Abhisit's support is now more of a liability for a candidate than an asset.
The result is still unofficial - EC gives 7 days for filing of complaints.
**please comment if any inaccuracies in the numbers, thanks.