Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thai People go to Polls

The Thai people have started voting in a landmark election. Of course, in a country which has seen coups and protests as much as and even more than elections, almost every election is a landmark election.

Thailand is, to say the least, a divided country. It is divided over the elites and the poor, the cities and the countryside, the North and the South and even on religious grounds. In mainstream politics, it is divided between the 'two shirts', yellow and red.

The central figure of this division is Thakshin Shinawatra, Businessman, two time elected former Prime Minister and fugitive from Thai justice. In the eyes of the elites he has done the unforgivable, that is the political mobilization and empowerment of the rural poor, mainly from the backward North. naturally, this has turned him into a 'demi-god' like figure in the North.

His original Thai Rak Thai Party and its successor the PPP were both dissolved over allegations of fraud. Now, a re-incarnation of the party in the name of Pheu Thai (For Thai) is back in contest, with Thakshin's youngest sister, albeit a political novice, Yinglick Shinawatra, as the leading figure. They are expected to defeat the Democrats led by incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Pheu Thai intends to grant amnesty to exiled fugitives, a move naturally geared towards bringing Thakshin back to Thailand. Whether the elite, and especially the Army, would stay doing nothing at such a move is contentious. The Army would feel powerless if the Pheu Thai win a sizable majority.

Whatever is the outcome, Thailand would be a divided nation for years to come.

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