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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           4  July  2011

Pheu Thai carries Thailand

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Novice politician Yingluck Shinawatra has led Pheu Thai Party to an overwhelming election win, throwing out the Democrat-led government and winning 265 parliamentary seats or more of the 500 seats in parliament. The runner-up Democrat party carried 159 seats.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the acting and now outgoing prime minister, conceded defeat two hours before any official results were announced.

The win by Ms Yingluck heralds the return of a government with close ties to her elder brother, the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. From exile, Thaksin called for a coalition government led by Ms Yingluck, with a goal of reconciliation.

Ms Yingluck arrived at Pheu Thai headquarters on Sunday afternoon to await the results. ``Thank you to the people who cameout to vote,'' she said, as she was nearly mobbed by supporters.

She is a political unknown, who talked in general terms of populist economics and political reconciliation - which some believe is a code for trying to bring Thaksin back to Thailand with amnesty for all past actions.

The new government, said both Ms Yingluck and Thaksin, will include minor parties - a coalition even though Pheu Thai appears to hold an outright majority for the second time in a decade.

Ms. Yingluck said she had spoken to leaders of the Chartthaipattana Party, which would switch allegiance from the Democrats in order to remain in government.

The vote was a huge defeat for Mr Abhisit and the Democrats. Mr Abhisit never looked comfortable on the campaign trail, as opposed to Ms Yingluck, whose minders ran a careful campaign that emphasised her looks and smile. Even before the election, there were strong suggestions that in case of a loss, the Democrats would ease Mr Abhisit from his position as party leader.

In comparison with the British born, Oxford-educated Mr Abhisit, Ms Yingluck was educated at Chiang Mai University, and then earned a masters degree in public administration at Kentucky State University in the United States.

In an interview from Dubai shown nationally on Thai PBS, Thaksin was subdued and called the election "a step forward".

"People are tired of a standstill," he said. "They want to see change in a peaceful manner."

Thaksin said he did not feel vengeful and was "ready to forgive all."

"I think people want to see reconciliation. They want to move forward. Puea Thai came up with a clear policy of reconciliation. We will not seek revenge," he added.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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