Former Thai PM quits as head of Democrats after poll loss
24 Mar 2019
Supporters of the Pheu Thai react at the party’s headquarters in Bangkok on Sunday. Agence France-Presse
Bangkok: Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stepped down as leader of the Democrat Party after its poor showing in a Sunday general election.
Thailand’s oldest political party was in fourth place in the popular vote, with a little more that 3 million votes, according to partial results released by the Election Commission, with 91 per cent of votes counted.
“I must take responsibility for this. I resign from my leadership of the Democrat Party,” said Abhisit, who was prime minister from 2008 to 2011.
Thailand on Sunday held its first general election since the military ousted the elected government in a coup nearly five years ago.
Thailand has a long history of cycling through elected governments that are then ousted by the army, which in time allows fresh elections.
Here’s a look the key political events since Thailand’s last general election.
July 3, 2011: The Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, wins a landslide majority in the general election. Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup and fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid serving a prison term for a conflict of interest conviction.
Aug.5, 2011: The House of Representatives elects Yingluck to become Thailand’s first female prime minister.
June 2012: Yingluck’s ruling party pushes legislation to promote national reconciliation with the stated goal of ending the sometimes violent political conflict that has roiled the country since the 2006 coup. Critics charge it is meant to help Thaksin escape justice and return to Thailand as a free man.
April 2013: The Constitutional Court rules that Yingluck’s government cannot make amendments to the 2007 constitution, which was enacted by an interim government that had been installed by the 2006 coup.
Nov.1, 2013: Mass rally held against bill proposing amnesty for political offences committed since 2006. The protesters claim its main purpose is to vacate the conflict of interest conviction against Thaksin.
Nov.24, 2013: As many as 100,000 anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok, demanding that Yingluck’s government step down.
Nov.30, 2013-Jan. 31, 2014: The anti-government protests become increasingly violent, with pitched street battles against the police and forced occupations of government offices and installations that practically immobilised government functions. The army, which used armed force in 2010 to quash aggressive protests by supporters of Thaksin, does not intervene to defend the government.
Dec.9, 2013: Yingluck dissolves the House of Representatives and calls early elections for Feb.2, 2014.
Dec.21, 2013: The opposition Democrat Party announces it will boycott the elections so that reforms of the sort demanded by the protesters can first be enacted.
March 21, 2014: The Constitutional Court rules the February election invalid because voting did not take place on the same day nationwide in violation of a constitutional clause.
May 7, 2014: The Constitutional Court removes Yingluck and several ministers of her caretaker government for abuse of power in connection with the 2011 transfer of a high-ranking civil servant.
May 8, 2014: National Anti-Corruption Commission finds Yingluck guilty of criminal negligence for implementing a state rice-buying subsidy scheme.
May 22, 2014: Army Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha stages a coup, ousting the government, abrogating the constitution and outlawing political gatherings. He later becomes prime minister in addition to heading the ruling junta.
Aug.7, 2016: A national referendum approves a new constitution drafted under the auspices of the ruling junta, along with new rules governing how the prime minister is chosen. Campaigning against the proposed charter had been banned.
April 6, 2017: The new constitution takes effect.
Oct.26, 2017: Cremation rites are held for the late king.
Jan.23, 2019: The Election Commission announces the general election will be held on March 24, after several earlier target dates had been pushed back.
Feb.8, 2019: The Thaksin-affiliated Thai Raksa Chart Party registers the king’s elder sister, Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, as its candidate for prime minister, breaking with the idea that members of the royal family are above politics. That same day, the king issues a royal order calling her registration inappropriate and contrary to the constitution.