Yaowapa wins Chiang Mai by-election

Yaowapa Wongsawat, the younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, romped home with a punishing victory over her Democrat rival in Sunday's by-election in Chiang Mai's Constituency 3.

Vote counting at an election unit in Chiang Mai. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)

After establishing what seemed an insurmountable lead in the early count, Mrs Yaowapa went on to register 69,564 votes over the Democrats' Kingkan Na Chiangmai on 21,128 with most of the ballots counted late in the evening.

Four candidates contested the poll which was called after Kasem Nimmonrat's resignation as an MP of the Pheu Thai Party.

They are candidates No 1 Taweesak Phupha of the Thai Rubber Party, No 2 Mrs Yaowapa of Pheu Thai, No 3 Mrs Kingkan and No 4 Taweep Yodserani of the Palang Sahakorn Party.

At the vote count at 4.15pm with about 33% of the ballots counted, Mrs Yaowapa was leading by a wide margin with 15, 692 votes, followed by Mrs Kingkan with 4,973 votes, Mr Taweesak 581 votes, and Mr Taweep 261 votes.

At 5.50pm, Mrs Yaowapa had received 52,065 votes while Mrs Kingkan had 15,849 votes.

Yaowapa Wongsawat receives flowers from supporters. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)

Prapan Naigowit, an Election Commission (EC) member in charge of elections, was in Chiang Mai to oversee the poll by himself.

Mr Prapan said the poll went ahead without any problems, particularly on the eve of the election day or the "night that dogs howl" when cash is expected to be handed out to constituents in exchange for votes.

There was a little rain in the morning but it caused no problems. The voter turnout was expected to be 73% or higher, he said.

The provincial election committee had received five complaints of alleged irregularities concerning the advance voting, smear campaigns, state officials not being impartial and intimidation against candidates.

Some canvassers were arrested for allegedly trying to buy votes for a certain candidate, Mr Prapan said.

Mr Prapan said if the investigation into the complaints could not be finished in 30 days, the EC would go ahead and endorse the winner. The investigation would continue after that.

If the alleged violation of the election law was found to have grounds against the winner, the EC would ask the Supreme Court's Election Cases Division to make a final decision.

Mr Kasem cited health problems as a reason to resign. He also said he wanted to turn to local politics, particularly to run for a seat in the provincial administration organisation.

The Pheu Thai Party dismissed speculation that Mr Kasem was under pressure to step down as an MP to make room for Ms Yaowapa, wife of former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat..

It was earlier reported that the ruling party was considering Ms Yaowapa as a candidate for prime minister should the incumbent, her sister Yingluck Shinawatra, be disqualified over a loan transaction probe by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

However, Ms Yingluck has been cleared by the NACC over the allegation that she concealed the loan extended to her husband Anusorn Amornchat.

Related search: yaowapa, chiang mai, thaksin, kingkan by-election

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