Surprising Election in Thailand Brings Promise of Stability

Earlier today, Thailand’s vaunted military accepted the electoral victory of the party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. This latest change is seen as a move towards stability in Thailand, which has been plagued by unrest since Shinawatra was ousted from his position in a coup five years ago. The new party, named the Puea Thai Party, is now headed by Thaksin’s own younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

After the stunning win, Thailand’s military agreed not to intervene or stop Shinawatra from forming the new government. The outgoing minister also mirrored the comments by the Thai military, saying the army accepted the election results. General Prawit Wongsuwan, a former army chief close to military members that were involved in the 2006 coup, said that the army had no intentions this time of attempting another coup.

The Puea Party won a majority of the election, with 264 of the possible 500 seats in parliament. This margin of victory has all but assured Shinawatra as becoming the first female prime minister in Thailand’s history. Before the announcement of the win, the public was wary of any possible conflicts that might occur between Shinawatra’s supporters and the army. Many of her hardcore supporters had previously clashed with the army in a violent clash last year.

“Winning by a big margin eases the problem of military intervening and makes it easier for them to form a government and implement all the policies,” said Kongkiat Opaswongkarn, the chief executive of Asia-Plus Securities. Shinawatra announced that she would be forming a five party coalition, giving her control of 299 seats, or around 60 percent of the parliament. This status gives her a strong foundation on trying to fulfill her election promises.

The 44-year old Yingluck Shinawatra plans to accomplish a long list of programs in the spirit of her brother, Thaksin. She is hoping to these programs could influence the direction and growth of Thailand, recognized as Southeast Asia’s second largest economy. Among her most ambitious programs includes an extension on the subway system, a big wage increases in several sectors, and several other giveaways made to boost spending power, especially in Thailand’s rural areas.

Thai’s stocks jumped four percent at the announcement of Shinawatra’s win, as it was globally regarded as a positive step for the country. This will be the first time in 6 years that the country could experience real stability in its government. In the past 6 years, the country was ravaged by a coup, occupation of Bangkok’s airports, a blockade of parliament and an assassination attempt.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s Puea Thai party Wins Election

Bangkok, Thailand. Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s baby sister is set to become Thailand’s first female prime minister.

The weekend vote paves the way for 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra, who has never held public office, to become the kingdom of Thailand’s first female Prime Minister.

Her Puea Thai party has won a clear majority with 263 seats out of 500, is way ahead of the ruling Democrats holding only 161. With the majority of the votes now counted, it is almost assured that Shinawatra will be swept into power.

The Election Commission, estimated a voter turnout of 74 per cent, which is a clear indication of the support for change in the Thai parliament.

Thailand has been plagued by political division ever since the former prime minister  Thaksin was ousted in coup in 2006. His loyal political supporters and bitter enemies have fought for power in parliament and on the streets.

Last year, Thailand was thrown into chaos when the Thaksin red-shirt supporters demonstrated and laid siege to parts of the capital, Bangkok.  The King eventually sent in the army to put down the increasingly confrontational and damaging protest, which ultimately resulted in more than 90 people dead

Yingluck Shinawatra’s faces huge challenges now by trying to reassure those who doubt her abilities and question whether she is more than a mere proxy for her brother Thaksin.

Incumbent prime minister Abhisit Veijajiva said in an interview after the results were clear “It is now clear from the election results so far that the Puea Thai party has won the election, and the Democrat party concedes defeat. I would like to congratulate the Puea Thai party for the right to form a government,”

Abhisit Vejjajiva, focused his campaign on a warning – that a vote for Yingluck was a vote for Thaksin, and that negative tactic appears to have clearly backfired now.

The other major factor in this murky political arena is the military. The army chief, Prayuth Chan-ocha, says there will be no more coups. He says “We will respect the will of the people and no longer interfere in the political process. However, they have said that before, but reneged when they felt it necessary.

Many Thai women now see Yingluck’s victory as a big step forward for women in a country where they have struggled for equal representation in government for many years.

Local shopkeeper Areerak Saelim, 42-year-old said “I’ve always wanted to have a first lady prime minister, I’ve seen too many men failing to run the country. Maybe this time, things will be different. What women are – and men aren’t – is meticulous. I’m pretty sure she can do the job based on her age and successful career.”

Others question whether Yingluck was, in fact, her own woman and not be a puppet to the party machine and her older brother Thaksin and his smouldering political ambitions.