In response to the culmination of a series of protests against her government , Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the Thai national assembly and called snap elections yesterday, leaving her opponents flummoxed.
It’s been a difficult month in Thailand, where Yingluck’s opponents started protesting in November over an amnesty bill with roots in the long-term political crisis that began with the election of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in January 2001. The background to today’s political protests in Thailand is long and not always easy to understand — but bear with me, because it establishes the necessary context to understand what’s happening today.
Thaksin’s long shadow
Thaksin, a wealthy mobile phone tycoon, came to power as the founder of the Thai Rak Thai Party (‘Thais Love Thais’ Party, พรรคไทยรักไทย) on a largely populist program of social welfare policies that included the first universal health care program in Thailand. Thaksin was reelected with an even larger mandate in the February 2005 election, on the strength of poor rural northern Thais who supported Thaksin in massive numbers. Continue reading Amid anti-government protests, Yingluck calls early February snap elections