The full official result won’t be known until Monday, but the Palang Prachapon Party (known as the People Power Party or PPP) seem set to form the new government. They may fall just short of a clear majority which would mean a coalition with one of the smaller political parties. In theory, the election should resolve much of the uncertainty of the past 18 months, but this is Thai politics and the Machiavellian machinations seem set to continue.
The figure of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra still looms large on the Thai political scene despite his self-imposed exile from Thailand. In the months after the coup, Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party was banned by the courts and there has been continuing threats of legal action against Thaksin and his family who stand accused of corruption. Although Thaksin and TRT were banned, there seems little doubt to most observers that the PPP is a newly formed version of Thai Rak Thai. The PPP’s policies are the same populist policies that won Thakisn such huge support in the north and north-east of Thailand and it is these voters that have voted for the PPP.
Leader of the PPP, 72-year-old Samak Sundaravej (pictured above), is a feisty political veteran. The former Bangkok governor was once a political rival of Thaksin Shinawatra, but now the two are allies with Samak vowing an amnesty for Thaksin and all the banned politicians from Thai Rak Thai.
None of this will go down well with the military in Thailand and whilst another coup is unlikely, there are sure to be a few more twists and turns before Thaksin Shinawatra sets foot on Thai soil again.
(photo of Samak Sundaravej from citizen.co.za)