July 3, 2011 by staff
Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand peaceful elections and the promise of Abhisit Vejjajiva Abhisit, the outgoing prime minister to form a “constructive” opposition are signs of hope in a country with a history of democracy in trouble, but the new government faces challenges if it wants end the debilitating political confrontation.
Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to become the first female leader of Thailand after the count showed her early Puea Thai party won an absolute majority, but the former businesswoman 44 years old, is politically untested.
Her greatest political asset is her relationship with her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister who commands the loyalty of millions of Thais despite having been overthrown by a coup in 2006.
However, it is also its greatest liability as it inspires a visceral hatred between the establishment of Thailand, including the powerful forces in the palaces of Bangkok, in the barracks and bureaucracy.
These forces combined to topple the pro-Thaksin last government in 2008 through a combination of protests and lawsuits. Unless Ms. Yingluck can be persuaded not to undermine its government, Thailand is unlikely to be able to break the political deadlock that has left largely derived from the 2006 coup.
“This is the interesting part: how will the establishment called the result”, said Pietersz Sriya, CEO of JPMorgan in Bangkok.
Crucial will be the speed with which the new government moves in one of her campaign promises: the promise to investigate an amnesty to allow Thaksin to return, a move that is guaranteed to anger opponents of Ms. Yingluck.
Rumors of coup are stocks in trade of Thai politics and the army is being watched carefully. Most observers believe that the army takes care to act openly against so convincing result, but the establishment has other weapons in its arsenal.
Many people fear a judicial assault in either the party or individual members. Under Thai law, political parties could be dissolved and all its officials banned from politics for five years if convicted of electoral fraud. Two pro-Thaksin parties have been dissolved under this legislation.
But Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, said the vote sends a clear message to those who may be tempted to use the courts to alter the outcome of the election.
“It is a verdict very important to us as a country,” says Mr. Thitinan. “The votes that went to Thailand not only Puea Thaksin, who are about the intervention and distortions of the past five years. If people liked what was happening, would not have voted for Puea Thai.”
The vote is also evidence of a tectonic shift in Thai politics beyond the traditional energy barons to a more policy-based discussion. “The electorate has become more connected with the political system than ever. The parties to suit the demands of the constituency election win,” said Thitinan.
And voters that governments pay for broken promises. “In the last two years, the government did not pay much attention to the poor, never asked what we wanted,” said Thamolwan Jamjaeng, held outside the headquarters of Puea Thai Sunday night.
However, higher expectations are a challenge for a government that has promised a Tablet PC for each school child and a solution to the country’s problems of drugs in one year.
“Life will get better, the new government to improve everything,” said Paiwan thongs-ard, a chicken seller see the vote count on Sunday. However, if Mrs. Paiwan is disappointed, is likely to show the next time you vote.
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