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  • Writer's pictureGeopolitics.Λsia

Nikkei Asian Review: Thai election reveals new rifts opening in deeply polarized nation

My comment on Nikkei Asian Review. The keyword here is "a hung parliament", so we will see how Thais can handle this situation in civilized way.


The Thaksin era would be marked not only by division but by accusations of corruption, monthslong street protests, an airport sit-in, a blockade of a big Bangkok shopping district, bloodshed and two coups.

"But this election points to a new polarization," said Kan Yuenyong, executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit, a Bangkok-based think tank. According to Kan, the post-election political map shows voters embarking on one of two paths -- ultraconservative or progressive.

"It is not just an urban-rural or rich-poor polarization anymore," Kan said. "The polarization is now in the city and cuts across the older divisions. So parliament will become the new battleground of these ideas."

The battle is already taking shape, with parties now horse-trading with one another in attempts to establish the next government. Palang Pracharat is flattering the ultraconservatives and allies of the junta to persuade them to back Prayuth for the prime minister's job. Pheu Thai is reaching out to parties in the pro-democracy camp in an attempt to stymie Prayuth.

The incumbent has election rules drafted by the junta's allies in his favor. They give military generals a say in choosing the senate's 250 members, whose votes will matter in choosing the next prime minister. But having the odds stacked in one's favor does not lend legitimacy. Since the vote counting began on Sunday evening, accusations of irregularities on top of a rigged election system have been swirling.

"The political divisions will only get inflamed the longer the question of the premiership remains unresolved in what is now a hung parliament," one diplomat said. "The military must be on edge."




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