04 July 2011

“Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai does...”

Democracy Monument

Yingluck Shinawatra won yesterday’s election, and will become the next prime minister, replacing Abhisit Vejjajiva. Yingluck is former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister; she has no political background, and became Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate only two months ago. Pheu Thai is a reincarnation of the People Power Party and Thai Rak Thai. (TRT was dissolved in 2007, followed by the PPP a year later.)

Yingluck is the third of Thaksin’s proxy prime ministers, after Samak Sundaravej (disqualified for his cookery show) and Somchai Wongsawat (disqualified at the height of the yellow-shirt protests). In fact, one of her campaign slogans was “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai does”, fuelling suspicions that Thaksin is controlling Thai politics while remaining in self-imposed exile.

In a bizarre twist, Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the leader of the 2006 coup, formed his own political party (Matubhum), and won a seat in the election. (There was never any likelihood of Sonthi being prosecuted for the coup, as Thai army generals are effectively untouchable and the 2007 constitution absolved the army of any liability.)