Thailand’s next prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be the country’s first female prime minister, but she is also widely seen as a stand-in for her older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck, a 44-year-old businesswoman, has never held public office before. But like her brother, she connects with voters in a way incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva could not.
Former prime minister Thaksin lives in exile in Dubai to avoid serving a two-year prison sentence in Thailand on corruption charges that he says are politically motivated. In the past, he has called his younger sister Yingluck his “clone” .
Yingluck has pledged to carry out her brother’s populist programs and bridge the deep political divide that has existed in Thailand since her brother was ousted in a coup in 2006. She is also expected to pursue amnesty for people convicted of political crimes, which would allow her brother to return to Thailand.
Yingluck says the amnesty is not just to help her brother, but to help all Thais reconcile after years of political discord.
Since Thaksin Shinawatra’s ouster in 2006, Thailand has seen sporadic street protests and violence in a power struggle between Thaksin’s rural and working class supporters, on one side, and Thailand’s traditional rulers and the military, on the other.