Thailand Election Day – Has Yingluck Shinawatra Got the X Factor

Tomorrow morning Thailand heads to the election polls as the country bids to put an end to the political unrest which has divided the Kingdom’s citizens over the past few years. There are forty-two parties contesting the July 3 election but in reality the winner will come from a straight fight between the ruling Democrat Party and the Thaksin Shinawatra controlled Puea Thai Party (For Thais Party)  headed by Thaksin’s youngest sister Yingluck Shinawatra.

In the days leading up to election day I’ve been digging around the internet to find out some background to the 44-year-old businesswoman who is bidding to become Thailand’s first ever female prime minister.

Yingluck Shinawatra
If beauty alone was the sole quality to choose the winner of Thailand’s general election then Thai women might argue current Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would be the clear winner. However ‘Handsome Abhisit’ has been upstaged on the election trail by a lady who is very beautiful to the eye, Yingluck Shinawatra has turned heads and melted hearts on her election campaign throughout Thailand.

Yingluck was born in San Kamphaeng District, in Chiang Mai Province on 21 June 1967 and is one of nine children and youngest sister to Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted from office in a military coup in 2006. Thaksin is now living in exile in Dubai after fleeing Thailand in 2008 when facing a Supreme Court trial on corruption related charges over a dubious land deal.

After leaving school Yingluck went on to graduate from Chiang Mai University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration. Two years later she gained a master’s degree in Political Science at Kentucky State University in the United States.

After graduating from Kentucky State University, Yingluck returned to Thailand to take a lead role in the running of Thaksin’s huge telecommunications empire. Since those early city business days she has continued working in Bangkok and is currently president of Bangkok-based property developer SC Asset Corp which is controlled by Thaksin’s children. However her entrance into Thai politics as the Puea Thai’s number one party-list candidate seemed to be more of a decision made by her brother than herself. Previously she had voiced her reluctance to step onto Thailand’s big political stage. Big Brother convinced her she has the X Factor and a one way ticket back to Thailand for a man in exile.

Since her nomination to head Peau Thai’s election campaign Yingluck has travelled the length and breadth of Thailand with great success and tomorrow evening she is a red-hot favourite to win at the polls and become Thailand’s first woman prime minister.

Yingluck lives in Bangkok with her common-law-husband Anusorn Amornchat and son Supasek is their only child.

Whether Yingluck has the X Factor to win Thailand’s general election remains to be seen but opinions polls suggest the Chiang Mai born ‘beauty with brains’ already has one high heel in office. She’s been called a ‘Thaksin clone’ and ‘Thaksin in a frock’, and her brother’s route back to Thailand via an amnesty for those guilty of recent politically related offences, but come Sunday evening Yingluck Shinawatra could well be named as Thailand’s 28th prime minister and the first lady to hold office.

Puea Thai’s PR team have squeezed every last drop of mileage out of Yingluck’s charismatic smile and good looks, plus their campaign promises which include welfare benefits for senior citizens, universal medical care and credit cards for farmers have helped to win over many doubters. Despite those enticing promises their winning hand could very well be the beautifully and elegantly manicured promotion of the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra as the saviour of the common people.

I found this quip on the internet from Thai historian Chris Baker which perhaps best explains how the majority of Thais see the differences in the two major political parties. Baker was merely commenting on Yingluck’s hair.

“It’s long, lush and sensuous. It’s been lifted a little at the peak with gel, and swept at the tips … in contrast to the clipped, sprayed and regimented bonnets of senior bureaucrats and army wives.”

Here in the UK it is Wimbledon finals weekend and I’d say putting Baker’s observation into a political context makes it game, set and match to Yingluck and the Puea Thai Party.

Good luck to each party involved in Sunday’s elections.

Photographs used in this post are believed to be in the public domain.
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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

15 Responses

  1. colin says:

    She would win my vote, but it’s got nothing to do with me!

    Still living in Swindon martyn, sorry to hear that, i’m surrently living in Bristol and have had to grace swindon many times. I’m of to Thailand in August… can’t wait! Great blog you have here

  2. Martyn says:

    Colin thanks for popping in again although you could have opened your Bristol bedroom window and shouted your comment down the road.

    I had been hoping to move out to Thailand next year but realistically 2014 is now looking to be the earliest possible time.

    You’re heading for Chiang Mai and that’s big big Shinawatra country.

  3. I for one really enjoy the Thai elections, it allows me time to spend my days sitting in my room with the door locked, the curtains drawn and my blanket safely wrapped around my head. White is the recommended shirt color if you plan on going out over the weekend.

  4. Martyn says:

    Lawrence Michaels – If I was in Thailand now I’d almost definitely be in Udon Thani and would have no problem slipping a red coloured shirt over my head. I hope Yingluck wins because I think the Reds were unfairly treated the last time they were in power.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn as I will be in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai on Monday I fancy I could be in for a very interesting day.
    Think I will take my passport along in case I need to exit stage left 😉

    I have a bad feeling about what will happen if the lady in red wins.

  6. Martyn says:

    Mike reading the online papers and getting a feel for the election when I was in Thailand not long back I think there’s only going to be one winner but the quandary is whether it’s a hung parliament.

    Be a winner and pack lots of red things in your travel bag.

  7. Catherine says:

    Martyn, this is indeed a contest to watch. Good thing I’m not a betting man because politics in Thailand are (is?) never a sure thing.

  8. Martyn says:

    Catherine I’m a betting man and if I could lay a few pounds I’d be putting them on Yingluck. I hope she wins.

    My stats are picking you up from Oslo in Norway. Am I right or way off the mark.

  9. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I don’t have a lot of faith in politicians so I’ll keep my pounds.

    And yes, you got it. I’m in Oslo. Where the pounds/dollars/krone are being frittered away. In my first hour here I acquired a US$100 parking ticket when dragging luggage four flights upstairs. In the second hour, a US$20 bill for parking legally.

    Hamburgers are US$30, onion rings US$15… coming from Thailand, these prices are totally mindboggling. And I’m glad I thought to bring tins of oysters (and I’ll bet you didn’t know I could be so cheap, heh).

  10. Martyn says:

    Catherine the parking fines are steep enough but the food prices need to be filed under daylight robbery. Onion rings at $15, what kind of wages are these people on.

    I’m currently waiting on the David Haye v Wladimir Klitschko world heavyweight title fight, then it’s bed and overtime tomorrow.

  11. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I’m told that the taxi drivers make enough to send their kids through uni… that’s the kind of salaries we are dealing with. Khun Pissout would love the money garnered from driving taxis in Norway, that’s for sure.

    It’s a paycheck gone mad sort of place, with the staples of life keeping pace. For eats I ended up at the grocery store and the bill wasn’t too bad. Reading Norwegian was tricky so some of my purchases were not quite right (I’ve since downloaded a Norwegian phrasebook).

    I’d say “don’t work too hard” but I realise that doing overtime is the ticket for getting back to Thailand for good so I’ll say “take care” instead.

  12. Steve Sux says:

    “commenting on Yingluck’s hair”

    Commenting on politicans hair colour, style, cut is also a big time waster in german news media outlets. Angela Merkel and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder were part of a ridiculous discussion in germany about the hair.

    Best Steve

  13. Martyn says:

    Steve thanks for the read and interesting angle you’ve added about politicians and haircuts. For me, Angela just about wins in the haircut stakes. Gerhard’s is a bit too wavy for my liking.

  14. Tariq says:

    Thailand is a beautiful country and great attraction for tourists like me. I always wanted to have peace and political stability in Thailand.

  15. Martyn says:

    Tariq thanks for taking time out from your embassy duties (I’m assuming) to read and comment on my post.

    We seem to have peace in Thailand at the moment but I’m not too sure about political stability. Time will tell.

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