Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was elected Thailand’s third prime minister in four months in a victory for the middle-class elite, who engaged in violent protests against governments chosen by the rural majority.
Lawmakers voted 235 to 198 for U.K.-born Abhisit, whose Democrat party wooed some members of the former ruling coalition to back him after protesters vowed to return to the streets if anyone else became prime minister. Three people abstained. Abhisit, 44, replaces Somchai Wongsawat, who was disqualified on Dec. 2 when a court dissolved his People Power Party for vote buying.
“Abhisit hasn’t put his foot in much rubbish so he’s one of the more credible parliamentarians out there,” said Prudhisan Jumbala, a political science lecturer at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “A number of people hope he can last a bit longer to put the house a little more in order before dissolving Parliament and calling for new elections.”
Abhisit has been endorsed by protesters who led a 193-day campaign against the People Power Party, and by top military generals and business groups who want political stability. Thailand’s consumer confidence in November fell to the lowest in almost six years after demonstrators forced the closure of Bangkok’s airports, and the global recession eroded exports.
A member of Abhisit’s Democrat party was a key leader of the People’s Alliance, which seized the prime minister’s office and two airports in a six-month campaign to bring down the Thaksin- linked government. Top Thai business groups have backed the party, arguing that another prime minister with ties to Thaksin would lead to more strife.
None of the protest leaders have been arrested for storming the airport, and the army and police didn’t enforce the government’s orders to clear the demonstrators.
“Abhisit united different factions who wanted to see unity and peace in the country, but they are not aligned because of common policy,” said Somjai Phagaphasvivat, a political science lecturer at Thammasat University. “It could hold together for about six months before conflicts emerge again.”
I have to wonder what will happen to The Nation and The Manager. Their raison d'etre has ceased to exist. Their entire reason for being is to make Thaksin the root of all evil in Thailand. Now that Thaksin has been completely purged and the Democrats are in power, they will have an existential crisis.
Yes, I will be calling Abhisit the military nominee from now on.