The outcome of the parliamentary elections in Thailand’s February 2 vote is almost certain, with the opposition Phak Prachathipat (Democrat Party, พรรคประชาธิปัตย์) boycotting the election, thereby handing an artificially inflated landslide victory to prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her allies.
Anti-government protests, which began in November over a proposed amnesty bill, and which resulted in Yingluck’s decision in December to call snap elections, continue to rage on, and Yingluck’s government, having already called a state of emergency, has indicated it will start cleaning government buildings in Bangkok of occupying protesters on Monday, February 3.
Though the protests have long eclipsed their immediate cause, an amnesty bill that both Yingluck’s supporters and opponents jeered, the ensuing ignition of political tension (and political violence) between the pro-government ‘red shirts’ and the opposition ‘yellow shirts’ has threatened to endanger the fragile stability that Yingluck, the sister of former, now exiled, prime minister Thaksin Shinwatra, tried to establish since her initial election in 2011.
But lurking behind the protests and the tension is a parallel controversy over the most consequential policy decision of Yingluck’s government — a well-intentioned rice subsidy scheme designed to stabilize the price of the rice crop for Thai farmers not only ran out of money, leaving farmers dissatisfied and angry, but knocked Thailand from its perch as the world’s top rice exporter and now threatens to plunge Thai’s credit rating to junk status. Continue reading How Yingluck’s rice subsidy backfired in Thailand