Sukhumbhand Paribatra raises his arms with members of the Democrats party during a press conference in Bangkok, yesterday.
BANGKOK: Bangkok’s governor swept back into city hall yesterday after winning a hotly-contested poll which spotlighted Thailand’s lingering political divisions. Sukhumbhand Paribatra of the royalist pro-establishment Democrat party overcame a rival from the ruling Puea Thai party, which is backed by “Red Shirt” supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Unofficial results on the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority website showed Sukhumbhand took more than 1.25 million of the 2.7 million votes polled, a quarter of a million more than leading rival Pongsapat Pongcharoen.
His victory extends the Democrats’ near-decade-long hold on Bangkok and stops Puea Thai gaining a foothold in the capital and extending its support base, now mainly concentrated among the rural poor.
“I would like to thank you voters who trust me and the Democrat party,” said a victorious Sukhumbhand, promising to work harder and be more dedicated.
Media-friendly former top policeman Pongsapat had looked set for a slender victory, but conceded early Sunday evening as it became clear he would fall well short. He expressed willingness to work with his rival “no matter in what position” in comments echoed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra — Thaksin’s sister — who pledged “to work “seamlessly” with Bangkok’s governor.