Monday, December 24, 2007

Thai election update: Looks like billionaire former P.M. is headed back into the governing picture


As of the moment, there has been no coup in Thailand, a possibility Howie was discussing yesterday. Thai voters, with their principal choices between the right-wing prime minister who was deposed by the military and the mlitary deposers, voted decisively against the military, and strongly if not quite so decisively in favor of the former prime minister. The People's Power Party (P.P.P.), which Howie described as "a right-wing conglomerate of supporters of deposed billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra," won 232 seats in the 480-seat parliament.

Today Seth Mydans and Thomas Fuller are reporting on the NYT website that the P.P.P. is claiming it has enough seats to form a governing majority:

Thai Party Says It Can Form Coalition

BANGKOK — A party that backs former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Monday that it had made alliances with enough other parties following parliamentary elections Sunday to form a coalition government.

The secretary general of the winning party, the People Power Party, said he was not ready to name his allies, and an official of the second-place finisher, the Democrat Party, said he doubted the claim.

“After counting the number of parties that have responded and having more than half the seats, there is no problem in forming a government,” said the secretary general of the People Power Party, Surapong Suebwonglee.

In the election Sunday, the pro-Thaksin party, known as the P.P.P., won 232 seats in the 480-seat parliament, in a strong repudiation of the generals who ousted Mr. Thaksin in a coup 15 months ago.

The total fell short of a majority, and Monday has been a day of hard bargaining among the parties to form a coalition government.

The strong showing of the P.P.P. means that Mr. Thaksin and his supporters will remain a force in Thai politics whether or not they form a government, and insures that a struggle for power will continue in this deeply divided country.

“It’s quite clear that P.P.P. in the next few days will try to form a government,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “Their legitimacy will be challenged by the Democrats and other parties.”

The Democrats, who have the backing of the generals, won 161 seats. Political analysts said the smaller parties would come under strong pressure from the military and the political establishment not to join with the pro-Thaksin party.

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