Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday hit the winning trail to emerge as Thailand's first woman Prime Minister, as the results of the general election, held earlier in the day, became clear late at night. s. Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party secured 263 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives.
Even before it became clear that Ms. Yingluck might command a clear majority, Prime Minister Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party conceded that his coalition had lost. Congratulating her on becoming the first woman Prime Minister, he said her party had earned “the right to form the government.” Mr. Abhisit, widely seen as the clear favourite of the politically proactive Thai military, promised to lead a campaign of “constructive opposition”.
Ms. Yingluck (44) said in Bangkok she would live up to expectations. She would seek professional expertise.
Hardly in high-voltage politics for a few weeks and with business-managerial experience as her professional forte, Ms. Yingluck was widely seen as the hand-picked candidate of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, toppled in a coup in September 2006. As a result of a series of political twists and turns in his career since that time, Mr. Thaksin, still in self-imposed exile, is also a proclaimed “fugitive.” He was convicted and sentenced, in absentia, in a graft case which was pursued under the watch of the coup masters and their political allies.
In a televised comment from exile, Mr. Thaksin said on Sunday he first wished her well before the polling and congratulated her after the exit polls showed her winning. It would be tough going for her, though, he noted.
Questions were being raised about the attitude of the Army and the royalists towards Ms. Yingluck in what was described as a deeply polarised political ambience.
While some Thai experts saw her political rise as a welcome development, some others sounded sceptical about her credentials for the high job. She was reckoned to have won a platform of greater populism than that offered by Mr. Abhisit. She had promised, among other things, free computers and credit cards for select target groups.