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Thailand's top parties scramble to find partners for ruling coalition

Thailand's top parties scramble to find partners for ruling coalition

Thailand's leading parties wooed possible partners for a coalition government, after allies of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra came out on top in the country's first election since he was ousted in a 2006 military coup.
The pro-Thaksin People's Power Party won nearly half the seats in the parliament's 480-member lower house _ a powerful message that the exiled Thaksin's mostly rural supporters would be happy to see him back despite allegations he was corrupt.
Less happy to see Thaksin return would be his deposers _ the military, Bangkok's educated middle class, and the country's elite, including elements associated with the monarchy.
Under an interim military-installed government that succeeded Thaksin, they changed the constitution to limit big parties' influence and tried to demonize him as a corrupt destroyer of democracy.
Before the vote, rumors had swirled that the military would launch a new coup if faced with a Thaksin comeback, but the army commander has vowed to abide by the election results.
Those results showed that Thaksin's foes failed to win over Thaksin's followers in sprawling rural and poor areas. They remained grateful for Thaksin's populist programs like universal health care and village development funds during his 2001-06 rule.
"This is the people's decision. The military has to accept that people disagree with the coup," Prinya Thaewanaraemitkul, a law teacher at Bangkok's Thammasat University, said Monday.
Thaksin was abroad during the bloodless coup and has since lived in exile, mostly in London. He is legally barred from office, the courts dissolved his Thai Rak Thai Party, and he has been charged with corruption-related crimes.
But by capturing 233 House seats, according to the latest Election Commission figures, the PPP is in the best position to form a new governing coalition.
PPP Secretary-General Surapong Suebwonglee said his party had won agreement from enough other smaller ones to form a majority coalition.
There would be "no problem in forming a government," he said. The House is supposed to convene within a month of the election.
Still, a PPP a coalition deal could fall apart if enough of the party's candidates are disqualified for electoral violations such as vote-buying.
Thaksin has influential enemies, and his proxy PPP is being sharply challenged by the second-place Democrat Party, which won just 165 seats but has the political establishment's confidence.
Building a working coalition is only the first challenge to restoring stability in Thailand after two years of polarizing politics, which began with Bangkok street demonstrations demanding Thaksin step down _ and continued after the coup failed to reconcile Thaksin's urban opponents and rural supporters.
Virtually all parties have espoused policies modeled on Thaksin's populist programs. No party has suggested a fresh approach Thailand's gravest crisis _ a Muslim insurgency in the far south that has killed at least 2,600 people in almost four years.


Updated : 2021-08-02 03:38 GMT+08:00