Khunying Jaruwan Maintaka is expected to comfortably defeat her closest rival, Pol Maj Gen Supisarn Bhakdinarinath, on Sunday in the senate election for Bangkok.
Election officials at a polling station in Bung Kum district in Bangkok prepare for the senate election, which was held nationwide on Sunday. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
The senate poll was conducted in all 77 provinces and, unlike the nullified Feb 2 general election, no reports of trouble or attempts block voters from entering polling stations were reported.
The Election Commission (EC) deployed 1.2 million officials and volunteers at 93,231 units across the country and only a polling station in Rueso district in Narathiwat had a problem.
Security officials inspect a police pickup truck hit by a roadside bomb one kilometre from a polling station in Rueso district, Narthiwat, on Sunday. (Photo by Wadao Harai)
A bomb hit a vehicle transporting police to the station before its opening at 8am, killing two officers and injuring another three, EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said. But the poll continued after the explosion, which took place about one kilometre from the unit, he added.
The senate election saw 42.51% of 48.7 million eligible voters cast their ballot, a drop from 55.62% in 2008. About 2.21 million voters went to the station but decided to select no candidate.
Election commissioner Somchai Sriruthiyakorn admitted voters were not keen to go to the polls this time due to the political atmosphere. Many opted to ''vote no'' because they did not know the candidates on the list, he added.
Bangkok was one of the most watched contests in the elected senate race as it pitted the former auditor-general, who is a staunch critic of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, against the former Crime Suppression Division chief Pol Maj Gen Supisarn.
Khunying Jaruwan led the vote count from the start, after the vote closed at 3pm, until the end. According to unofficial results from the EC, after 94.82% of the votes had been counted, she had received 512,600 votes against 248,264 votes for Pol Maj Gen Supisarn, her closest contender.
Khunying Jaruwan was a member of the Assets Scrutiny Committee set up by the coup makers after Thaksin was ousted in 2006. She received strong backing from the Group of 40 senators who campaigned for her to replace outgoing Bangkok senator Rosana Tositrakul to continue the role of the upper house in scrutinising the performance of the government.
She said on March 6 when she registered to be a senate candidate that several possible corruption cases were left unfinished since she was the auditor-general and she wanted to pursue them if she had a chance to be a senator.
In other provinces, Arporn Sarakham, wife of the red-shirt leader in Udon Thani, is expected take the province's seat, while Sermsak Thongsri looks set to beat former senator Karun Sai-ngam in Buri Ram. Mongkolchai Duangsaengthong is expected to win the race in Chiang Rai, Adisorn Kamnerdsiri could win in Chiang Mai and Apichart Dumdee has come first in Krabi.