Democrats ride to victory on loyal voters
Party strongholds in inner-city and the west saved it in a tough electionYesterday's Bangkok governor election confirms that voters in most of the inner and western districts remain loyal to the Democrat Party, which has ruled the capital for eight years and is set to stay in charge for another four years.
But both the country's oldest political party and the Pheu Thai are losing their support bases to each other in areas they least expected such as Nong Khaem in the west for the Democrats and a few districts, including Min Buri, in the east for Pheu Thai.
With the counting of votes completed, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) website showed a turnout of 63.98 per cent of eligible voters or about 2.71 million constituents, with all 50 districts of the capital registering turnout above 60 per cent.
Democrat candidate MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra returns to the helm of the BMA by beating his formidable rival Pongsapat Pongcharoen from Pheu Thai by a significant margin.
Sukhumbhand led with 1,256,231 votes to Pongsapat's 1,077,899.
While Pongsapat was the first runner-up, with more than 1 million votes, he still lagged far behind Sukhumbhand, winning only seven districts.
Sukhumbhand's imminent victory seems to owe a lot to the loyalty of the people in inner and western Bangkok.
The districts that threw their support behind the Democrat, according to unofficial results, were Phra Nakhon, Pom Prab, Samphanthawong, Pathum Wan, Bang Rak, Sathon, Bang Kho Laem, Yannawa, Klong Toei, Vadhana, Ratchathewi, Din Daeng, Phraya Thai, Huai Khwang, Wang Thong Lang, Lat Phrao, Chatuchak, Saphan Sung, Prawet, Suan Luang, Phra Khanong, Bang Na, Thon Buri, Khlong San, Chom Thong, Rat Burana, Thung Khru, Bang Khunthien, Bang Bon, Thawee Watthana, Bang Khae, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok Yai, Taling Chan, Bangkok Noi and Bang Phlat.
In Samphanthawong, for example, Sukhumbhand bagged 60 per cent of the votes while Pongsapat got only about 17 per cent. And in Vadhana, Sukhumbhand received 19,877 votes to Pongsapat's 8,179.
However, Pheu Thai scored a surprise win in Klong Sam Wa district with 35,758 votes for Pongsapat against 35,051 for Sukhumbhand. The district had helped the Democrat Party's candidates claim the governor's office throughout the past eight years.
Pongsapat was also victorious in Nong Khaem with 33,129 votes to Sukhumbhand's 29,232 votes. This was the first time in five years a candidate associated with the Thaksin Shinawatra political camp had gained significant support from a western district, the stronghold of the Democrats.
In fact, when voters in Nong Khaem cast party-list votes in the 2011 general election, most still went to the Democrats.
The unofficial results showed Pongsapat also captured Sai Mai, Don Mueang, Lat Krabang, Nong Chok, Lak Si, Bang Khen, Bang Sue, and Khan Na Yao districts. In Don Mueang, a Pheu Thai bastion, the tally was 40,073 to 28,092 in Pongsapat's favour.
Pheu Thai swallowed disappointing defeats in Min Buri district where locals had chosen Pheu Thai candidate Wicharn Minchainan as their MP, in the 2011 election.
Pongsapat almost lost in the Khan Na Yao district, too, getting 19,137 votes as opposed to 18,042 votes for Sukhumbhand. Such a narrow win was a jolt because just like in Min Buri district, the Pheu Thai Party has an MP from Khan Na Yao.
The results of the gubernatorial election have shown that the Democrat Party's support base in Khan Na Yao has been rising.
However, a closer examination reveals that Min Buri and Khan Na Yao have sided with the Democrats only in the governor polls during the past eight years and have switched to the Pheu Thai for MP or Bangkok councillor elections.
This reflects that the constituents in these two districts base their decisions on the qualifications of the candidates, not on their party affiliation.