Sunday September 25th, 2022 8:09AM

Bangkok governor's election handily won by opposition figure

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BANGKOK (AP) — Residents of the Thai capital Bangkok, in their first opportunity in nine years to vote for their city’s governor, have elected an independent politician seen as representing opponents of the country’s military-backed government, results released early Monday showed.

Chadchart Sittipunt had been widely predicted by opinion polls to top the field, but significantly outpaced expectations by taking 1,386,215 votes, or almost 52% of the 2,673,696 votes cast in Sunday’s election, according to virtually complete but uncertified returns.

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

The 55-year-old Chadchart, though running as an independent, was seen by both supporters and opponents as a proxy for the Pheu Thai party, the main Opposition grouping in Parliament. He served as transport minister in a Pheu 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 received an order from the people, I would start working right away, visiting communities and areas to see where I could begin my work as soon as I can as a governor," Chadchart told reporters Monday morning. "I have a young, energetic team who are keen to move.”

The independent candidate who was seen as a stand-in for the ruling Palang Pracharath party ran a weak fifth in the race. Former Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang, a retired senior police officer, came in fifth with 214,692 votes, or about 8% of the votes cast.

The 71-year-old Asawin was appointed governor in 2016 by Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army commander seized power in a 2014 coup and dismissed the previous governor over corruption allegations. Prayuth was returned to office as prime minister following the 2019 election in a coalition government led by the military-backed Palang Pracharath party.

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

Political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, noted ahead of the vote that this was the first significant election since the 2014 coup.

“People are hungry to have a say,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The result, if it clearly goes against ruling Palang Pracharath, would be consequential for Parliament, Prayuth and no-confidence.”

However, while the Bangkok election results are discouraging for Prayuth and the ruling party, they don't constitute a death knell.

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

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

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2022
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Biden: Recession not inevitable, pain to last 'some time'
President Joe Biden says he does not believe an economic recession in the U.S. is inevitable despite record high inflation and supply shortages partly caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine
1:56AM ( 1 minute ago )
7 die in Philippine ferry fire; over 120 rescued from water
A ferry carrying more than 130 people caught fire in the northeastern Philippines and seven people were killed
1:48AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Russian offensive turns to key Donbas city, heavy shelling
Ukrainians were digging in to defend the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk as it endured heavy bombardment from Russian forces trying to take the industrial area known as the Donbas
1:40AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden to lay out in Japan who's joining new Asia trade pact
President Joe Biden is set to launch a long-anticipated Indo-Pacific trade pact on Monday
11:28PM ( 2 hours ago )
Russia presses Donbas attacks as Polish leader praises Kyiv
Russia’s war with Ukraine isn’t confined to Ukraine’s east
10:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
Pennsylvania's Fetterman released from hospital after stroke
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has been released from the hospital after a stay of more than a week following a stroke
4:59PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Bangkok votes for governor in 1st election since 2014 coup
Voters in the Thai capital are electing a new governor in a contest delayed by a military coup that still reflects a divided country with main candidates either supported by the conservative establishment or the liberal opposition
5:45AM ( 20 hours ago )
Fate of 2,500 Ukrainian POWs from steel plant stirs concern
As the West rallies behind Ukraine in its war with Russia, Polish President Andrzej Duda has arrived in Ukraine on an unannounced visit
2:38AM ( 23 hours ago )
Australia's next prime minister came from humble beginnings
Australia’s Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese is a politician molded by his humble start to life as the only child of a single mother who raised him on a pension in gritty inner-Sydney suburbia
1:00AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Wisconsin Republicans vote not to endorse for governor
Wisconsin Republicans have voted not to endorse anyone for governor ahead of the GOP primary in August, after many activists rose up against the move
9:20PM ( 1 day ago )
AP source: Giuliani interviewed for hours by 1/6 committee
Rudy Giuliani, who as a lawyer for then-President Donald Trump pushed bogus legal challenges to the 2020 election, met for hours with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
6:41PM ( 1 day ago )
Pa. Senate GOP primary too close to call, recount likely
Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat is too close to call and is likely headed for a statewide recount to decide the winner of the contest between heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick
8:55PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
Prosecutors debunk Colorado clerk's 2020 election claims
Prosecutors in a western Colorado county say they found no evidence of tampering in the 2020 presidential election as alleged by a clerk who has become a prominent voice among those promoting former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election
5:24PM ( 3 days ago )
US lawmakers urge binding vote on Puerto Rico statehood
A group of Democratic congress members is proposing a binding plebiscite to decide whether Puerto Rico should become a state or gain some sort of independence
4:29PM ( 3 days ago )
EXPLAINER: How mailed ballots slow results in Pennsylvania
Counting of mailed ballots in Pennsylvania is drawing renewed scrutiny amid a too-close-to-call U.S. Senate primary between Republicans David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Former President Donald Trump blasted the state’s elections procedures on social media, even though there are no indications of any wrongdoing with those ballots other than a printing error that was slowing the tally in one county
12:05AM ( 4 days ago )
General Election News
Court ruling extends uneven treatment for asylum-seekers
In one of the busiest corridors for illegal border crossings, Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans are released with ease to pursue asylum in the United States
11:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Migrant back home after 7 years in Mexico jail with no trial
An Indigenous migrant who was accused of kidnapping and jailed in a northern Mexico border city has returned to her homeland of Guatemala as a free woman after spending more than seven years in prison without a trial
10:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
7 dead, 120 others rescued in Philippine ferry fire
The Philippine coast guard says a ferry carrying more than 130 people caught fire while approaching a northeastern province and many people escaped by jumping into the sea
10:13PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
7 die in Philippine ferry fire; over 120 rescued from water
A ferry carrying more than 130 people caught fire in the northeastern Philippines and seven people were killed
1:48AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Russian offensive turns to key Donbas city, heavy shelling
Ukrainians were digging in to defend the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk as it endured heavy bombardment from Russian forces trying to take the industrial area known as the Donbas
1:40AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Beijing extends work-from-home order as COVID-19 cases rise
Beijing has extended orders for workers and students to stay home and ordered additional mass testing as cases of COVID-19 again rise in the city
1:07AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Theories emerge for mysterious liver illnesses in children
Health officials remain perplexed by mysterious cases of severe liver damage in hundreds of young children around the world
1:05AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Albanese sworn in as PM in Australia ahead of Tokyo summit
Australia’s new prime minister was sworn into office before flying to Tokyo for a summit with President Joe Biden
1:00AM ( 57 minutes ago )