New poll called for April 23

PHUKET: Voters are to go to the polls once more on April 23 after Phuket’s two Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) candidates, running unopposed, failed to get elected to Parliament on April 2.

Dr Sriyada Palimapan, running for office in District 1, which covers Phuket City and the surrounding area, garnered a total of 11,910 votes, far outweighed by the 41,903 “no votes” cast in the district.

Polling just over 12% of all eligible voters, Dr Sriyada’s tally fell far short of the 20% needed for an unopposed candidate to be elected.

In District 2, the TRT’s Wisut Santikul, also running unopposed, also failed to get elected. He received 13,088 votes, or about 12.5% of the total electorate in the district. Nearly four times as many people, a total of 49,181, marked the “no vote” box.

In District 1, voter turnout was 64.89% while in District 2 it was 66.36%.

After the vote, Dr Sriyada acknowledged that she had received fewer votes this time than in the last general election, in February 2005.

“One reason was that the number of people who voted was down while another was a misunderstanding about another District 1 candidate who was disqualified just before the election, which some people didn’t know about,” she said.

K. Wisut blamed his failure to get elected on three factors – the Democrat boycott of the election, continuing rallies by the People’s Alliance for Democracy, and the attack by supposed Thai Rak Thai supporters in Chiang Mai on Democrat elder statesman Chuan Leekpai, shortly before the election.

The attackers rained chairs, eggs and paint on Democrat leaders after they spoke at a rally on March 30.

“I was expecting 21,000 to 22,000 votes,” K. Wisut said, “but I think what happened to Chuan had a big effect.” However, he confirmed that he will run in the election replay on April 23.

It is currently unclear whether the Democrat Party, Phuket’s traditional favorites, will run in the second round of voting; the party, along with Chart Thai and Mahachon, boycotted the April 2 poll after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra rejected political reforms they had proposed.

The local Democrat leader, Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, told the Gazette today that the party will hold a national meeting on Thursday to decide what course to follow.

Registration of candidacies will take place on April 8 and 9.

Phuket News
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