Above: The sign reads: The future of Thai children towards the new guarantee for lives – Increase the loan budget for education – Study first and pay back later – One Tablet PC per child, students have computers to use – Free WIFI-free public internet – Pheu Thai
Four Years Ago: Preparing for Elections in Thailand
In 2011, around this time, all parties were anticipating upcoming elections. The fear from the Pheu Thai was that a very close outcome would enable the minority Democrat Party to form a collation to freeze the Pheu Thai out of power again.
In the months preceding the election there was a major push with warnings and shows of force from the Red Shirts (Thaksin gambles on radical wildcards). There were also unprecedented promises from the Pheu Thai of direct giveaways for voters (a new pro-Thaksin government could not afford another year like the People Power Party year in 2008 when the government refused to govern unless urgent reforms were made to the constitution). There was also a new round of anti-monarchy rhetoric that was intended to make sure the message internationally was that Thailand needed reform, if not revolution.
All of this was insurance to make sure that shadowy backstage forces would not be able to point to a free and fair election while preventing the majority Pheu Thai Party from forming the next government.
But there was also great confidence. Thaksin was touted by the Pheu Thai as the master of the party. Even before the end of May 2011, Thaksin was openly declaring he would be returning by the end of the year to resume his highly popular war on drugs.
The eventual massive win by the Pheu Thai eliminated all fears that a coalition could block it. Within months, Thaksin’s amnesty was on the table again.