CHIANGRAI TIMES – Wanchai Chongsutnamani, long-standing former Chiang Rai mayor, beat mayor Somphong Kunwong by 15,109 to 11,312 votes, according to unofficial results announced by the Election Commission yesterday.
Third-placed candidate Witthaya Tantiphuwanat, a red shirt leader of the Khon Chiang Hai Rak Prachathipatai group, won only 2,394 votes from a total turnout of 31,321 voters.
It is the latest defeat for the Pheu Thai Party in its political stronghold and support base of the pro-Thaksin red shirt group after the ruling party lost in a by-election and elections for the head of the Provincial Organisation Administration in Pathum Thani late last month.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit attributed the loss to a matter of “individual candidacy” rather than a party failure.
Mr Somphong, an associate of Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai Samat Kaeomichai, did not campaign on the government’s policies, so the poll was decided more on his own popularity and capabilities. Mr Wanchai won the seat because he has worked in the area for a long time and is well known, Mr Prompong said.
He said that a by-election in Chiang Mai’s Constituency 3, which will be held on June 2, will be a more decisive test for the party. It will be fought on the party’s election platform and the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s policies.
Pheu Thai’s candidate Kasem Nimonrat will apply to run in the by-election today for the seat vacated by Chinnicha Wongsawat, who was disqualified after she was found to have falsely declared her assets and liabilities.