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Politics & Current Affairs

Thailand’s First Female Leader Faces a Divided Nation

Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, faces the opposition of palace and military factions who see her brother as a usurper of royal privileges.

What’s the Latest Development?

A political unknown before the national election, Yingluck Shinawatra is the new prime minister of Thailand. She is the brother of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ousted in a military coup in 2006. “Among her first challenges, say analysts, will be delivering on the [her party’s] campaign promises, including higher wages, increased farm subsidies, and corporate tax cuts.” That her brother’s supporters were able to garner enough support for Yingluck to triumph has surprised the Thai establishment. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Yingluck inherits a country divided by royal privilege and popular protest. A group of nationalists known as the red-shirts, who supported her brother and former prime minister Thanksin, provoked conflict last year by protesting against the government. “The establishment sees (Yingluck) and Thaksin and everything they stand for as a challenge to their order,” says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute for Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.”


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