The pro-red shirt Pheu Thai party has won Thailand’s general election. Led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the Pheu Thai party have won at least 265 seats in the 500 seat parliament with their nearest opponents, the Democrat party, trailing behind on 159 seats. Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat party and the outgoing prime minister, has congratulated Yingluck on her victory and also announced that he will step down as leader of the Democrats.
Whilst nearly all of the votes have been counted, the final official result may not be known until later this evening or early Tuesday morning and will then need to be ratified by the Election Commission. Pheu Thai have a working majority in parliament but have announced this morning that they will seek to work with some other smaller parties in a coalition government which will give them a probable 299 seats. This should give them a real position of stability and strength to push through their policies.
The exit polls may have got the margin of victory wrong, but this is still a big win for the red shirt movement and a big win for Thaksin Shinawatra. Deposed by a military coup in 2006 and found guilty in absentia on corruption charges, Thaksin currently lives in exile in Dubai. He is widely viewed as the real power behind Pheu Thai. The decision to appoint Yingluck, the younger sister of Thaksin, as the Pheu Thai candidate proved to be very astute. With less than two months experience in politics the Thai business lady has connected with the floating voters as well as the traditional Thaksin support. The big question now is whether Thaksin will be granted an amnesty and whether he can return to Thailand. Thaksin himself has said he is no hurry and will wait until the time is right. Speaking to reporters in Dubai this morning Thaksin said, ‘The top priority is to bring back reconciliation’. He thanked the Thai voters for backing his sister saying, ‘I am very grateful for the Thai people that they really come out to voice their concern about the country. It is very clear that they want to see reconciliation in the country, they want to see an end to the conflict, and they want to see the country moving forward.’
Photo credit: Bangkok Post