New York Times: “Former Premier’s Party Wins Thai Vote”
A party that backs former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra won a parliamentary election on Sunday, defeating a party backed by the generals who ousted him in a coup 15 months ago.
At a recent rally for the People Power Party, participants wore masks bearing the likeness of the ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, still a popular and controversial figure in Thailand.
The election result was a repudiation of the generals, who had worked hard to discredit Mr. Thaksin and neutralize his supporters. But the shape of the next government remained in question.
With 95 percent of the votes counted, the pro-Thaksin People Power Party had won 228 of the 480 seats in Parliament, less than a majority but enough to try to form a coalition government.
The Democrat Party, backed by the generals and the political establishment, won 166 seats.
The strong showing means that Mr. Thaksin and his supporters will remain a force in Thai politics whether or not they form a government, and ensures that a struggle for power will continue in this deeply divided country.
Allies of Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s deposed prime minister, won a convincing victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections in a strong rebuke to the military coup leaders who drove the controversial premier from power last year.
However, the People’s Power party, which became a refuge for Thaksin loyalists following the May dissolution of the former leader’s Thai Rak Thai party, fell slightly short of the 240 seats needed for an absolute parliamentary majority, with early results showing them winning about 230 places in the 480-seat assembly.
This opens the door for a period of intense political bargaining that could see the second-place Democrats, led by the Oxford-educated Abhisit Vejjajiva, form a government in coalition with all other parties.
The military, and the palace backers of last year’s coup d’état, are expected to lean hard on the five smaller parties to deter them from entering an alliance with the PPP, and to press them into a shotgun marriage with the Democrats, which won just 160 seats of the parliament.
Guardian: “Election triumph could herald Thaksin’s return”
The successor party of deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory last night in the first election since the military coup 15 months ago, fuelling fears of further political uncertainty.
The Thai election authority’s unofficial tally with most votes counted showed that the People Power party (PPP) won 228 seats, less than an outright majority in the 480-seat parliament, but well ahead of its key rival, the Democrat party, which was headed for just 166.
The electorate’s damning verdict on the coup, if borne out by the final results revealed today, is likely to provoke a protracted period of negotiation as the PPP seeks to form a coalition government.
But the outcome heralds the strong possibility of Thaksin’s return from his London exile as the PPP leadership pledged on the campaign trail that it would dissolve the agencies appointed by the junta to probe corruption charges against the billionaire tycoon who bought Manchester City football club.
Watching from Hong Kong as the results rolled in, Thaksin, 58, raised the spectre of a comeback. That would be a disaster for the military which staged the coup to rid Thai politics of such a divisive figure.
“I would suggest that if we [the PPP] form a national reconciliation government then things will move from there and get smoother and smoother,” he said. “Probably somewhere around mid-February they will have a democratic government. I will consider then when I should go back.”