The win for Pheu Thai, led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, boosted stocks and the currency as investors shed their pre-election jitters and hailed the formation of a stable government. The incoming administration must overcome resistance from Thailand’s military, courts and bureaucracy as it seeks to allow Thaksin to return from a three-year exile and change the constitution to reduce the power of non-elected institutions.
“The biggest risk is that they move aggressively, that they say ‘We have a mandate and will use that to roll back what’s happened since the 2006 coup,’” said Andrew Stotz, a Bangkok-based strategist at Kim Eng Securities (Thailand) Pcl, the nation’s largest stock brokerage. “If he goes too fast and aggressive, the protests will start.”
Yingluck, who has deflected questions on whether Pheu Thai would promote amnesty for Thaksin, called for “unity and reconciliation” at a press conference yesterday in Bangkok at which she announced the formation of a five-party coalition. Thaksin, who has lived in Dubai since fleeing a 2008 jail term for abuse of power, told reporters there that he had no immediate plans to go back.
“I should be part of the solution, not the problem,” Thaksin, 61, said, adding that he was considering a new career as a professional golfer. Asked if he aimed to reclaim more than $1 billion in wealth seized by the government after his ouster, Thaksin replied: “Don’t worry about it. I’m not starving.”
The prospects for stability depend on Thaksin staying away in the near future, said Kaewsan Atipho, a member of the panel that investigated his assets after the coup. Efforts to return or change the constitution in Thaksin’s favor could provoke more demonstrations, he said.
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