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Inside Story

Yingluck Shinawatra: Running out of luck?

As Thailand's political crisis lingers, we discuss growing fears that yet another military coup is imminent.

Last updated: 14 Jan 2014 12:55
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Protesters are on the streets of Bangkok again, vowing to force Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office.

But she has invited their leaders for talks, saying she wants to discuss postponing elections set for February 2, 2014.

The achievement is not for the people, but for the Thai society as a whole in terms of the increasing political awareness and participation in political affairs of the country. So I think that is a positive achievement and that political awareness and participation permeates every strata of society and region ... 

Kasit Piromya, former foreign minister of Thailand

The invitation comes as anti-government demonstrators are trying to shut down the Thai capital, barricading major intersections and planning to march on the homes of ministers.

The protests have been gathering momentum since November but they are only the latest in an eight-year conflict that pits Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poorer, rural Thais.

Allied with the king and his close circle of elites are the Thai upper middle class, or the 'Yellow Shirts'. Mostly professionals, they are the ones currently on the street trying to overthrow the current government.

And then there are the 'Red Shirts', who together with rural farm workers and the country's poor, support Yingluck and her brother, former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand has had more military coups than any other country - the last one overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. Since 1932, Thailand has experienced 11 successful coups, and seven attempted ones - that is 18 coups in 81 years.

So it is no real surprise that politics in Thailand is polarised and has been for the last decade. And the combination of autocracy, democracy and monarchy has made it more susceptible to coups.

With the ongoing turmoil and stalemate, there are growing fears of the military intervening. So, what next for Thailand's political crisis? Will Yingluck Shinawatra resign?

Inside Story presenter Kamahl Santamaria is joined by Panitan Wattanayagorn, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University; and Kasit Piromya, the former foreign minister of Thailand, who is now an opposition member with the Democrat party.

"I think this time it's quite different as compared to a few years ago. It seems to many of us that protesters, as well as the police and the military tried to refrain from violence - I think that is one progress that they are making up until now, but of course sadly a few people have lost their lives and a few hundred injured, but compared to many years ago perhaps, this is acceptable to many people."

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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