Thailand: Opposition Pheu Party leads polls ahead of the general elections
June 22, 2011
The upcoming general elections, scheduled to be held on 3 July, will be decided between two major parties: the Democrat Party of incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the opposition left-wing Pheu Thai party that is led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of the exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Yingluck Shinawatra, a young businesswoman with virtually no experience in politics, was picked to lead the Pheu Thai party in order to challenge Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrats, as Thaksin Shinawatra remains banned from politics in Thailand. However, as Yingluck Shinawatra's credentials remain unknown, scepticism has arisen amongst Pheu Thai supporters as to whether she would emerge as a politician in her own right, or if she would behave more as an operator for her brother in exile. According to the latest opinion polls, the Pheu Thai party would garner about 30% of the vote, while the Democrats would gain around 17%. As neither party is likely to win a majority, the winner will need to form a coalition government with smaller parties, making the future course of the government even less predictable. However, even if the Pheu Thai wins the elections, the country is likely to face an uncertain political future. In a television appearance, army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha urged voters to choose the ?good people? in the election. The military deposed Thaksin in 2006, triggering a long period of civil unrest including airport seizures, arson attacks and street protests that killed more than 100 people.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist