January 04, 2008
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many adults in Thailand want violence and confrontation to come to an end this year, according to a poll by Suan Dusit University. 49.36 per cent of respondents would like to see the restoration of peace and order in their country in 2008.
An improvement in the country’s economy is second on the list of wishes with 30.45 per cent, followed by having a good prime minister and government in place with 20.19 per cent.
Religious conflict has affected Thailand in the past few years. The southern provinces are home to a Muslim minority, while the rest of the country is primarily Buddhist. A series of attacks initiated by southern separatists in early 2004 have resulted in more than 2,000 deaths. Authorities believe organized crime and corruption might also be to blame for the violence.
After two years of political instability—which included the dissolution of the lower house, a cancelled national election, a military coup, and the enactment of a new constitution—Thailand held a legislative ballot on Dec. 23. Final results gave the People’s Power Party – Phak Palang Prachachon (PPP) 232 of the 480 seats at stake, followed by the Democratic Party – Phak Prachatipat (PP) with 165 mandates. PPP leader Samak Sundaravej declared: “It is a victory for this country. (…) I would certainly be prime minister.”
On Dec. 31, the PPP announced a coalition deal with three smaller political parties—the Thais United National Development Party, the Neutral Democratic Party and the Royalist People’s Party—but left the door open for possible collaboration with other forces. The Thai Nation Party and For the Motherland had conditioned their participation in the government on the PPP’s willingness to carry on with pending criminal proceedings against deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yesterday, Thailand’s Electoral Commission chairman Apichart Sukhakkanon revealed that almost one-fifth of the legislative races were being investigated over purported voting irregularities, including vote-buying. PPP spokesman Kudeb Saikrajang expressed confidence in the outcome of the inquiry, saying, “We are waiting for its results. We believe we can go ahead with launching our coalition government.”
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