Premier Chuan Leekpai's ruling Democrats secured their position as the biggest party on Bangkok's city council in elections, but were far short of the landslide some pundits had predicted. Democrat-backed politicians took 22 of the 60 seats on the council, while 119 of the party's 260 candidates made it on to district bodies after stiff competition from independents under the new Worker Ant banner. Earlier polls had suggested a Democrat surge to the 30-seat mark. The Worker Ants, a group pulled together under crusading Bangkok Governor Bhichit Rattakul, has vowed to energise traditionally apathetic efforts to clean up the sprawling capital and make it more 'resident friendly'. Voters said Democrat candidates had merely tapped into the popularity achieved at national level and had offered few specific policies of note. They appeared to benefit from the higher-than-expected turnout of 30 per cent of Bangkok's 2.6 million voters who braved polling booths throughout Sunday despite temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius. The largely academic polls were seen as a key confidence booster for Mr Chuan ahead of national elections now expected before the end of the year. The councils' powers have long been neutered by national governments paying close attention to the plight of the rapidly expanding City of Angels - one of the region's fastest growing capitals. Bangkok has long been a Democrat stronghold and a key source of power despite the fact that it is home to just one in seven of the country's voters. No firm date has yet been set for a national poll with Democrat chiefs waiting for supporting legislation to be passed in the next two to three months. The election is set to be the first under Thailand's radical new constitution - a document created to end decades of political vote-buying and patronage.