Will the progressive Carp and the populist Rabbit be able to get Thailand back on track? On Sunday, 52 million Thai voters handed over the reins of their House of Representatives to two parties with opposing viewpoints, but united in their hatred of the public. remain so, For nine years, the country was ruled by Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power after a military coup. a “tradition” (Thailand has experienced a coup every seven years on average since 1932) that voters support less and less. So he preferred the Move Forward and Phu Thai parties to the Royalists and the military.
The first is headed by Pita Limjaronrat, a young businessman educated at the best American university. “Pita” presented an authentic program of breakdown: the dismantling of the oligarchy that underpinned its economy, the end of military conscription, and above all the reform of the monarchy’s legal framework, which severely punished the crime of lèse-majesté. does. This last point is a red flag for the conservative portion of the electorate, but it didn’t stop PITA from winning its bet. “Go ahead push the boundaries of Thai politics where it needs to go,” Chulalongkorn University professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak said in a daily column. asahi before the ballot.
unnatural political association
The Progressive Party came first on the ballot with 151 delegates, notably winning all constituencies in the capital Bangkok. A triumphant entry into the lower house of 500 representatives, but one which does not carry enough weight to thwart the overwhelming power of the military, the strength of 250 senators, in Parliament. To strengthen its position, the party has forged an alliance with another party, Phu Thai, which won Sunday’s election with 141 seats.
The association is unnatural: The latest political incarnation of unsinkable billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, Phu Thai appeared as expensive as Move Forward seemed logical. Its key measure: pay 10,000 baht (272 euros) to all Thais aged 16 or over who could spend four kilometers from their home for six months. “Whatever the cost” of 15 billion euros to the public finances.
tourism in crisis
The military in power is paying for its political apathy in the face of Covid, which has damaged two engines of the economy: goods exports and tourism. “China is Thailand’s second largest export country after the United States. It absorbs 12% of its assets,” said Moody’s Analytics economist Eric Chiang. “In Thailand and the Philippines, tourism directly or indirectly accounts for about 20 % economic activity”, said Luis Peixoto of BNP Paribas in a note on the topic published in 2022. The same study shows that two-thirds of foreign tourists to Thailand are Chinese, who have been virtually put under house arrest by Covid since 2020. have given, and who are only now starting to travel again.
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and now? Go ahead and Phu Thai have agreed to form a coalition government. But the army will not hand over power easily. Is the strange pas de deux between dictatorship and democracy that has animated Thailand for nearly a century finally coming to an end?