Challenges Ahead For Thailand’s PPP

Oxford Analytica 01.01.08, 6:00 AM ET

Thailand’s People Power Party (PPP) said on Monday it had enough seats to form a government.

The party, which supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has secured the support of three smaller parties and says that it will have 254 out of 480 parliamentary seats. However, the final election results are subject to adjustment in the coming days, and the second-biggest party, the Democrats, is also vying to form a government.

The military, traditional, elite PPP have sought to allay domestic and international concerns over how an extended political crisis can be managed or resolved. What they cannot do is alter the message of the election without risking long-term harm to the country’s domestic political structure and reputation.

Election results, subject to adjustment as the Election Commission (EC) considers claims of fraud, vote-buying and other charges against winning candidates, give:

–the PPP 230 seats in the 480-seat lower house (down from an initial 233 after three candidates were disqualified for allegedly offering bribes for votes);

–the Democrats 165 seats; and

–five smaller parties the remainder.

With no party winning an outright majority, negotiations on the formation of a coalition government are underway, with the PPP claiming last week that it had 254 seats. Under the constitution, a democratically elected government should be formed within 30 days of the poll date.

–By Jan. 3, the EC should have checked allegations and claims of vote-buying, electoral fraud and other related offenses (three PPP candidates have already been disqualified).

–The PPP is expected on Jan. 4 to announce the formation of a new government.

–Some candidates will have to contest seats again on Jan. 13 if they are deemed to have committed offenses during the first round of voting earlier this month (more serious offenses result in the candidate and party being disqualified).

–By Jan. 22, 95% of MPs should be approved, enabling the new parliament to assemble.

However, the implications of a return to the pre-coup political status quo for sections of the military and the old elite who backed the 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin are of such magnitude that it would be remarkable if events were permitted to unfold with such precision. The timetable could also be disrupted by other factors. For example, the medical condition of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s elder sister Princess Galyani Vadhana, terminally ill with cancer, is causing increasing concern. Her death could dampen emotions while reminding the nation of the monarch’s own mortality.

There has been a considerable effort by the dominant political players since the election to project a sense of normalcy. However, the poll results reveal an unsettling picture of the nature and state of the policy:

–Elections indicate that most voters expected direct improvements in their living standards in exchange for their political support, as originally promoted by Thaksin.

–However, as all parties offered similar packages aimed mainly at the Thaksin/PPP powerbase among the rural poor of the northern and northeastern provinces, voting patterns suggest another motive for supporting the deposed prime minister and his acolytes.

–The most probable explanation is a rejection of the military and its political allies–principally the Democrats–who are perceived as seeking to preserve the status and privileges of the remote elite regardless of the outcome of the popular vote.

–Bridging the gap between these positions is set to prove irreconcilable in the foreseeable future.

To read an extended version of this article, log on to Oxford Analytica’s Web site.

Oxford Analytica is an independent strategic-consulting firm drawing on a network of more than 1,000 scholar experts at Oxford and other leading universities and research institutions around the world. For more information, please visit To find out how to subscribe to the firm’s Daily Brief Service, click here.



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