Pichai Lertpongadisorn of the Pheu Thai Party has been elected chairman of the Chiang Mai provincial administration organisation (PAO), beating his closest rival and old friend Boonlert Buranupakorn in Sunday’s election, according to an unofficial vote count.
Both Mr Pichai and Mr Boonlert, the incumbent PAO chairman, were once old friends amd members of the camp loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
In this election, however, the two competed for the provincial chairman post — with Mr Pichai running under the Pheu Thai banner and Mr Boonlert representing a political group with support from United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Chatuporn Promphan.
According to an unofficial tally, Mr Pichai came first with 421,426 votes, followed by Mr Boonlert with 353,010 votes.
Pheu Thai candidates to become members of the PAO council appeared to have won in most of Chiang Mai’s 42 constituencies.
Kriangkrai Pandokmai, director of the Chiang Mai election committee, said he was waiting for the unofficial results and voter turnout figures from all 3,131 polling stations in the northern province. He would then prepare a full report for the Election Commission.
The provincial elections, the first since the May 2014 military coup, were for the chairman and members of the council in each PAO and raised hopes for the decentralisation of power in Thailand. While the governor of each province is appointed by the Interior Ministry, other provincial officials are elected.