One vote decides poll station 8


The small polling station closest to Bangkok's Democracy Monument saw media personality Nitipoom Navarat edge out former Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, who is at the opposite end of the political spectrum, by a single vote.

Nitipoom, a senatorial candidate who spoke at the recent anti-Thaksin rallies received 29 of the 275 votes cast while Samak, who made a controversial defence of Thaksin on television, received 28.

Turnout, however, was low, with slightly less than 50 per cent of eligible voters showing up at polling station 8 in Borvornivej sub-district of Phra Nakhon district.

Fans of both men were on hand to ensure nothing went wrong. Sirichai Kongpolparn, a motorcycle-taxi driver who voted for Samak, had to remind election officials to announce the final scores of each candidate without delay. "They already did it elsewhere," he complained.

Next to him was a fan of Nitipoom who had voted at a nearby district but came over to watch the counting at booth number 8. "Nitipoom distributed anti-privatisation CDs on the Argentinean experience during the People's Alliance for Democracy rallies and I agreed with him. We should re-nationalise the Petroleum Authority of Thailand," he said.

He went on to speculate that caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra would eventually end up a "tyrant" in exile.

A woman, representing a candidate she declined to identify, arrived with a sheet listing 40 short-listed candidates, monitored the counting - which ended shortly after 5pm - and noted the scores.

She was generally happy with the proceedings except that ballot papers had no names or pictures of candidates, which had caused confusion and wasted ballots. In a polling station where 275 people voted, 10 ballot papers were invalidated.

Anti-corruption activist Klanarong Chantik came third with 24 votes, while Rosana Tositrakul, a leader of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy received 12 votes. Kwansuang Atibhodhi, the twin brother of the outgoing and critical senator Kaewsan Atibhodi, received 14.

Earlier in the day, at a polling station in Bang Kapi district, voters opposed to the Thaksin regime confessed they had a hard time figuring out how to spread the anti-Thaksin votes in order to elect as many independent candidates as possible.

Each voter can only vote for one candidate and the 18 candidates with the most votes become Bangkok senators.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

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