On July 3, Thailand will go to the polls to decide on the next government. Prime Minister Abhisit confirmed the timing of the election in an announcement today and also said it would mark a new beginning for Thailand. The current coalition government came to power on the back of a court ruling in December 2008 which disqualified from office the previous pro-Thaksin governing party. Since that time, Abhisit has had to contend with protesters claiming his government is illegitimate. Those protests came to a violent head last year when anti-government red shirt groups clashed with the police and army in central Bangkok resulting in the deaths of more than 90 people.
Many red shirt sympathisers remain loyal to former Thai leader, Thaksin Shinawatra. The de facto political party for the red shirts is Pheu Thai and although he lives in exile from Thailand, Thaksin will be a major player for Pheu Thai in their attempt to gain power. Whether Thaksin still has enough support to help them to an election victory remains to be seen, but analysts are predicting a close battle between Pheu Thai and the Democrat Party. As leader of the Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva has already stayed in power far longer than many had predicted and there is sure to be much political horse-trading going on in Thailand in the coming weeks.