11-Time MP Chosen as New Democrat Leader

A file photo of Jurin Laksanawisit

BANGKOK — A former minister and veteran MP was voted in as the new leader of the Democrat Party on Wednesday.

Jurin Laksanawisit secured a majority of 160 out of 291 votes cast today at the Democrat headquarters, beating three other party elders for the top spot. In a speech prior to the vote, he urged his compatriots to be open-minded and “change what should be changed.”

“The era of Superman is over,” Jurin said. “The new era belongs to the Avengers. Our party superheroes must assemble as Democrat Avengers and lead us forward.”

Jurin, 63, has been a politician all his adult life, having been elected to the lower house 11 times since his first victory at the poll in 1986. The Phang Nga native has taken up multiple cabinet portfolios, from energy and education to public health.

Jurin replaced former chairman Abhisit Vejjajiva, who resigned on March 24 following a historic defeat at the polls that saw the Democrats losing in all Bangkok constituencies. The new Democrat leader pledged to win back the party’s dominance.

“Today the Democrats are down to 52 MPs. The new party leader must think how to bring the number to over 200 in the future,” Jurin said.

The veteran politician has yet to declare whether the Democrats will join a pro- or anti-junta faction when parliament convenes to vote for the new prime minister.

However, a May 10 report on Bangkok Insight quoted an unnamed party official as saying that Jurin will not join hands with Phalang Pracharath, which backs junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha’s bid for another term.