Thai politics

Yingluck elected Thailand’s prime minister: quick news round-up

As I noted in the update to my previous post, presumed Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now Prime Minister Elect Yingluck Shinawatra.

The New York Times reports:

Thailand’s Parliament elected Yingluck Shinawatra the country’s first female prime minister on Friday, a month after her party won a landslide victory over a coalition backed by Thailand’s military and traditional political and business elites.

Ms. Yingluck, a political novice, received 296 votes in the 500-seat parliament, a reflection of her party’s comfortable majority.

Her position is almost official:

Ms. Yingluck’s selection must be approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej before she can officially take office. Thai media have speculated that she will announce her Cabinet within days.

The AP also has some analysis and says:

Before Yingluck can officially assume the post, however, King Bhumibol Adulyadej must endorse her in a separate ceremony expected to take place as early as Friday evening.

The FT notes that endorsement could come as late as Monday:

Ms Yingluck, 44, will formally assume office once the king endorses the parliamentary vote confirming her as the country’s first female prime minister, something that is expected by Monday.

The Wall Street Journal‘s lede points to what could be challenges ahead:

Thailand’s parliament formally elected Yingluck Shinawatra as the country’s next prime minister, signaling the start of a new but potentially rocky era in the Southeast Asian nation’s long-running political sagas.

And later:

Analysts generally believe it will only be a matter of time—possibly only a few months—before more serious tensions emerge, most likely around the issue of when or if Mr. Thaksin can return.

(All emphasis mine.)

Thai politics

Yingluck set to become Thailand’s first female prime minister today

2011 08 05 yingluck

Yingluck Shinawatra is set to become Thailand’s first female prime minister when parliament votes today following the July 3 election.

Suranand Vejjajiva has a Bangkok Post op-ed describing the challenges she faces:

First, Ms Yingluck will have to prove to the general public that without any extended assistance from her brother Thaksin, she can sit at the head of the cabinet and control the game on her own.

Second, Ms Yingluck must muster all her forces to be able to deflect the attacks on the parliament floor from the Democrat Party which, throughout history, has established itself at being best while in the opposition.

Third, the elite establishment remains deeply distrustful of Thaksin and Pheu Thai, but for now is willing to appear accommodating due to the large margin of Pheu Thai’s electoral votes and strong popularity.

Ms Yingluck will have to work out a delicate balance in regaining a basis of trust for reconciliation while keeping the more hostile elements at bay.

Fourth and most important is that Ms Yingluck must be able to control the various political factions within her own party, satisfying the needs but keeping ambitions and egos in check. A rift or apparent breakup could end up destabilising the party. In the past, Newin Chidchob’s defection destroyed Pheu Thai’s predecessor the People Power Party, and history could repeat itself with other factions. The numbers game in Parliament could always change if Pheu Thai’s present 265 seats are pushed down below the simple majority of 250 seats.

Reuters also ran some analysis earlier this week:

Running a real estate business in the middle of a building boom is one thing. Running a country that’s embroiled in a bloody political crisis may be a little more challenging, as Thailand’s Yingluck Shinawatra is about to discover.

The honeymoon is over for the 44-year-old political novice, about to become Thailand’s first female prime minister. Millions of poor supporters expect great things from her, while the country at large wants an end to a political crisis dating back to a coup that toppled her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006.

It was thanks to Thaksin that Yingluck was catapulted from relative obscurity as president of SC Asset to stardom within days of her May 16 nomination to lead the campaign of the Puea Thai Party in the July 3 election.

But as she prepares to follow in Thaksin’s footsteps after a parliamentary vote on Friday, it is her brother’s perceived influence over the incoming government rather than her inexperience that could prove her downfall.

Stay tuned…

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: Reuters.)

Update: 12:40 p.m.:

The Bangkok Post says it’s official. Almost:

Pheu Thai Party list MP Yingluck Shinawatra was elected Thailand’s 28th prime minister by a majority vote in the House of Representatives on Friday morning.

A total of 296 MPs voted in support of Ms Yingluck, the country’s first female prime minister, while three MPs voted against her, with 197 abstentions by the opposition, including the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.

Up next: endorsement from the king.

DPA says:

Thailand’s House of Representatives on Friday elected Yingluck Shinawatra to become the country’s first female prime minster, paving the way for a new government expected by next week.

Yingluck’s selection, by a 296 to 3 vote in the lower house, will become official as soon as it in endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 83, who is head of state.

Thai politics

Thai Parliament to open today

Bloomberg notes that Thailand’s Parliament is set to open today, with prime minister to-be Yingluck Shinawatra ready to take the helm.

Thailand’s Parliament will open today for the first time since Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party won a majority last month, paving the way for lawmakers to select her as the country’s first female prime minister.

The Election Commission has certified all but four of 500 winning candidates in the July 3 vote, discarding complaints aiming to thwart the sister of exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra from taking power. Court rulings and a coup have overturned three previous Thaksin election wins since 2005.

“They won a landslide so it will be easier to manage the country,” said Suwat Bumrungchartudom, an analyst at Bangkok- based Bualuang Securities Pcl. “The coalition is quite solid. The question now is whether they can follow through on their commitments before the election.”

The Bangkok Post says Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the proceedings:

Pheu Thai Party is to unveil its choice of the new house speaker today as the lower house convenes for its official opening this afternoon following the July 3 general election.

The formal house opening will be held at the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall in a royal ceremony to be presided over by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on behalf of His Majesty the King.

(Emphasis mine.)

Update: 7:15 p.m. Bangkok time: The Bangkok Post says the Parliament is now open. The story includes some photos.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on Monday presided over the opening of parliament, allowing the House of Representatives to convene its first meeting tomorrow.

Thai politics

WSJ on Yingluck’s EC endorsement: more MPs needed for parliament to convene

The WSJ says today that:

Thailand’s official vote monitor confirmed this month’s election of Yingluck Shinawatra, but more approvals will be required before her party can assume power and she can take office as the nation’s first female prime minister.

The Election Commission…

…hasn’t yet confirmed some other parliamentarians, leaving legal obstacles that could mean Ms. Yingluck’s Puea Thai, or For Thais, party can’t yet assume power. To convene, parliament needs 475 of its 500 members. So far, 370 have been confirmed.

It isn’t unusual for weeks to pass after a Thai election before a new government is formed.

Thai politics

It’s official: Election Commission endorses Yingluck

A brief item this afternoon from the official MCOT new agency says it’s official:

Election Commission endorses second batch of 12 MPs-elect including Abhisit, Yingluck, Suthep; Red Shirt winners remain suspended

The Bangkok Post has more.

Thai politics

Yingluck and others yet to be endorsed by Thailand’s Election Commission

2011 07 13 nation yingluck

While it’s unclear whether the news constitutes a “bombshell,” as the Nation headline says, here are some details.

Today’s Bangkok Post tells us that:

Yingluck Shinawatra, Abhisit Vejjajiva and a number of red-shirt politicians were missing from the 358 MPs endorsed by the Election Commission yesterday.

They failed to receive confirmation of their election victories from the EC in its first batch of result endorsements, as investigations into complaints against them for allegedly breaching election law are pending.

Pheu Thai’s Ms Yingluck, who is expected to be the next prime minister, Mr Abhisit, the outgoing premier and former Democrat Party leader, and key red shirt leaders including Jatuporn Prompan and Natthawut Saikua are among 142 poll winners whose confirmations have been suspended pending investigation.


Also among those not yet endorsed are the Democrat Party’s acting secretary general and deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the Democrats’ PM’s Office Minister Ong-art Klampaibul and former House speaker Chai Chidchob from the Bhumjaithai Party.

And finally, on the would-be “noodle-gate“:

Ms Yingluck, meanwhile, has been cleared by the EC of alleged vote-buying in connection with a highly publicised incident when she fried noodles and distributed portions to voters during a May 31 campaign stop in Nakhon Ratchasima province. However, the EC has not yet ruled on other allegations facing her, and so her poll win cannot yet be endorsed.

Meanwhile, the Nation says:

The Election Commission rattled would-be prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party last night after it delayed endorsement of her election win and those of 11 other party candidates.

The commission said the endorsement of Yingluck was delayed pending an inquiry into “several” legal matters regarding her party’s election campaign. Yingluck was portrayed by Pheu Thai as its prime ministerial candidate with a controversial slogan “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts”. She was also accused of violating vote-buying rules by cooking and distributing noodle dishes to constituents. Subsequently, the accusation was dropped by the EC.

The EC also held back endorsement of former Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva over complaints of vote-buying.

However, the EC has never “suspended” top party-list candidates in the past.


The EC traditionally does not immediately endorse those who have had complaints lodged against them. The EC will meet again on July 19 to reconsider those have not yet been endorsed. EC member Sodsri Sataya-thum said a subcommittee would look into legal matters concerning the cases of Yingluck and Abhisit and report to the EC in seven days.

Endorsed members of Parliament were advised to pick up documents for their House of Represen-tatives registration from tomorrow.

The EC will have 30 days to investigate the cases of the other 55 MPs-elect who were questioned, the source said. By August 1, at least 475 MPs must be endorsed so that the House can assemble and begin work.

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: @lekasina on Lockerz.)

Thai politics

Suit filed against Yingluck for alleged help from banned politicians

I wanted to point out this WSJ story from Saturday, which notes that:

Critics of incoming Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her allies filed the first major legal case challenging their recent election victory, signaling the start of what could become a protracted effort to destabilize Thailand’s new government.

The case, filed Friday by the head of the legal team for Thailand’s outgoing ruling party, seeks to dissolve Ms. Yingluck’s victorious Puea Thai party for allegedly relying on campaign help from politicians previously banned from Thai politics. Chief among them is Thaksin Shinawatra

(All emphasis mine.)

Thai politics

An unexpected Yingluck-related lede…

2011 07 11 yingluck noodles

…comes from Saturday’s Bangkok Post, which noted:

The EC is investigating an allegation that Pheu Thai’s potential candidate for premiership Yingluck Shinawatra violated election law when she cooked fried noodles and distributed it to the voters during a May 31 campaign stop in Nakhon Ratchasima province. But at first glance, it is likely she did nothing wrong.

(Emphasis mine.)

BP has some commentary.

It appears unlikely that anything will come of this alleged transgression. But just noting it for the record, given former PM Samak’s food-related firing in 2008.

(Image: Bangkok Post.)

Thai politics

More on potential anti-Yingluck demonstrations

Reuters has more on potential anti-Yingluck demonstrations, which the WSJ mentioned earlier:

Days after Thailand voted for a new government led by the country’s first woman prime minister, a determined doctor with a knack for rallying crowds is pursuing legal action to bring her down.

Tul Sitthisomwong, a die-hard opponent of self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accuses the billionaire’s sister and Prime Minister elect, Yingluck Shinawtra, of perjury and wants the courts to indict her before she takes office.

Thai politics

Anti-Yingluck demonstrations to begin next week?

Today’s WSJ says:

A group of die-hard anti-Thaksin activists is stepping up its campaign for authorities to charge Thailand’s new leader with perjury in a sign that tensions could resurface in one of Southeast Asia’s most volatile nations despite last weekend’s decisive election.


Dr. Tul said in a telephone interview that his group, the Network of Citizen Volunteers Protecting the Land, will begin protesting at the headquarters of Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission on July 12.