By Janjira Jarusuphawat,
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's elder sister Yaowapa Wongsawat, who is the Pheu Thai Party candidate for the by-election in Chiang Mai, has officially won the Doi Saket district in Constituency 3.
The election result from three polling stations in Maung Ton Pao municipal district and Nong Kong school showed that No 2 Yaowapa led the other candidates, including No 3 Kingkarn na Chiang Mai of the Democrat Party, No 1 Taveesak Phupha of the Thai Rubber Party, and acting sub-lieutenant Taveep Yodseranee, No 4, from the Cooperative Power Party.
Yaowapa secured 67,101 votes while Kingkarn received 21,372 votes. Taveesak received 2,456 votes and Taveep 977 .
Yaowapa was elated by the result, saying that she had little time for the election campaign. She attributed the victory to Pheu Thai's national policies.
Bouquets of flowers were presented to the winner, including that of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung. It was reported that she was invited to a private dinner at Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom's residence in Chiang Mai.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai’s election commissioner Praphan Naikowit said his agency had received five complaints. He said even if the investigation into the complaints was not completed within 30 days, he would announce the official election result.
Chiang Mai’s election commission director, Suchart Chaiphakdee, said he expected that more than 70 per cent of eligible voters had flocked to the polling station and cast their votes in the by-election. Vote counting was expected to finish by 7pm. A representative from Timor-Leste was an observer.
The by-election in the Constituency 3 follows the resignation of Pheu Thai’s Chiang Mai MP Kasem Nimmolrat last month. Yaowapa’s decision to run in the by-election after serving her five-year political ban met with heavy criticism, especially from local red shirts who wanted the party to select a candidate by voting instead of opting for a Shinawatra family member.
An independent academic Chamnarn Chanruang previously had said that while Chiang Mai is dominated by the Shinawatra clan, especially Constituency 3 spanning San Kamphaeng, Mae On and Doi Saket, the red shirts were not happy with the move to field Yaowapa. They wanted the candidate to be chosen through voting.
Chamnarn said that though Yaowapa will win, she would getting fewer votes compared to Kasem last year, as many voters will choose to abstain rather than vote for her Democrat rival.