Guided by her brother from his exile in Dubai, Yingluck Shinawatra, current head of his party, Pheu Thai, has won a massive mandate from the people of Thailand, who gave her an absolute majority in parliament and the country its first woman Prime Minister. Demonstrating level-headedness, she has opted for a coalition government with four smaller parties. Thaksin Shinawatra, the telecom-king-turned-politician, was thrown out of power in 2006 in a military coup, and convicted in a corruption case two years later. Although there are apprehensions that he has a remote control in hand, it would be unfair to pre-judge the political course Ms Yingluck is going to take. During her election campaign, she promised to put an end to the economic woes of the country and bring about reconciliation in a divided society. The question now is whether she will stick to her poll promises or, emboldened by the scale of her party's victory, overstep her mandate and try and bring back her brother from exile by offering him some kind of amnesty.
While the vote for Pheu Thai and Ms Yingluck could very well be described as a decisive endorsement of Mr. Thaksin himself, it will need a lot of tact and diplomacy from the incoming Prime Minister to deal with the meddlesome military, the opposition, the judiciary, and the monarch to stabilise the national situation. Political adventurism is the last thing Thailand needs at this moment. Its economy is in poor shape. The price of Thai rice, a major export commodity, has fallen sharply in recent months, and the currency, the Baht, remains weak. The new government needs to concentrate on these bread-and-butter issues instead of working on legislation or political diplomacy to bring Mr. Thaksin back from exile. For his part, the former Prime Minister needs to restrain his overweening ambition and content himself with playing a mentor's role for now, wishing his sister and her political career well. The military must accept the people's verdict and work with the new administration to restore credibility and law and order across the kingdom. Outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva did the right thing by resigning as leader of the Democrat Party and promising to play a constructive role in opposition. An element of uncertainty has been introduced by the election commission's announcement that it would investigate complaints of electoral fraud and come up with the final tally within a month. Thailand has suffered enough for want of political stability and from the incessant military coups. It is time its government, the various political parties, the military, and other institutions of state gave democracy a real chance to do well.