Former PM Thaksin to returns home with PPP’s victory

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Dec 24 2007
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Unofficial results (with 96% of the vote counted) from Sunday’s general election gave pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) 232 of the 480 seats in parliament, just short of the absolute majority needed to govern Thailand alone. The party, which has promised to bring former premier Thaksin Shinawatra back from his self-imposed exile in Britain, claimed victory on Sunday and immediately began courting potential partners.

While Surapong Suebwonglee, secretary general of the PPP, claimed they had received enough support from other parties to form a coalition government he however declined to name which parties had agreed to join PPP. The Democrat Party, which came in second with 165 seats, has already refused to join a PPP-led government. So PPP depends on the remaining five minority parties which captured the other 83 seats, with Chart Thai seen as the potential partner.

Samak SundaravetWith no party having a strong mandate it is believed the situation offers little hope to Thai business leaders who are hoping for a clearer direction to the nation’s economy. Since the military ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006, consumer confidence has plunged to five-year lows while domestic investment and consumption have been sluggish. The army-backed government who has no economy knowledge whatsoever only worsened business sentiment by imposing tough foreign currency controls while proposing stiff limits on foreign investments, sending foreign investors away.

If PPP could form a coalition and dominate the government, PPP leader Samak Sundaravej would become Thailand’s new prime minister. Samak told CNN Sunday that February 14 – Valentine’s Day – would be a good day for Thaksin to return from exile in London, but that he would have to face corruption charges filed against him. He said a new parliament controlled by the PPP would pass an amnesty law to allow Thaksin’s return and amend the constitution to allow his return to politics.

Thaksin ShinawatraIt would be interesting to watch the reaction(s) from Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej who endorsed (quietly) the coup de’tat by General Prem Tinsulanonda who toppled the twice-elected Thaksin in a bloodless coup in September 2006, banning Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party. Any public action(s) by General Prem would be seen as the public voice of King Bhumibol. Surely the general cannot launch another coup should PPP decided officially to welcome back Thaksin as it would be suicidal to the already ailing (slowly but surely) Thailand’s economy.

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