Monday, July 4, 2011

Rural voters in Sunday's Thai elections

The Pheu Thai Party appears to have won an outright majority in Sunday's Thai election. This means that 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, will become Thailand's first female prime minister. Also of significance is the rural-urban angle on this story.

Here are some excerpts from the New York Times report which highlight the rural sector and the salience of the rural-urban axis in this election:
The vote is a vindication for Mr. Thaksin, 61, a populist champion of Thailand’s long-marginalized rural poor, who was elected prime minister twice, in 2001 and 2005, and removed in a coup in September 2006.
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“This is a slap in the face to the establishment for what they’ve done since the military coup in 2006,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University. “This is a new Thailand that they must learn to live with.”

He added: “This whole election is all about the awakened voices. These people discovered that they can actually have access and be connected to the system.”

The Pheu Thai party is supported by many of the “red shirt” protesters, representing the rural and urban poor, who are committed to Mr. Thaksin and staged a two-month rally that paralyzed parts of Bangkok a year ago.

Read other posts about the situation in Thailand and the rural-urban axis here and here.

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