Thaksin is back

Well, his allies are.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva of the Democrat Party has reportedly conceded defeat to the opposition Pheu Thai party after exit polls projected a landslide victory for the pro-Thaksin opposition. Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is certain to be the next prime minister. Reports seems to suggest that her party will be able to form a government without the need to negotiate coalitions with smaller parties.

The election results is a repudiation of the Royalists, the Bangkok elite and the military establishment and their Yellow Shirts supporters, who had ousted Thaksin, a legitimately-elected but arguably autocratic prime minister who had dared to challenge the power of the Royal Court yet remains popular among the rural poor, in a royally-sanctioned military coup in 2006. The ouster of Thaksin has deeply divided the country between the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts– the marginalized constituents of Thaksin’s populism.

For the short term, perhaps the Thai-Cambodian border dispute could subside, now that the Democrats are no longer in power; afterall, it is the Yellow Shirt constituency that has been beating the nationalist drums over the otherwise already-resolved dispute. Or perhaps the Yellow Shirts could use the dispute to try to topple the new Shinawatra government?

Would this election lead to improved political stability in Thailand? I see no reason to be optimistic.


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