Thailand Gets Second Chance at Democracy

No clear frontrunner before Sunday's first vote since coup
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2007 6:23 PM CST
Leader of Thailand's Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva greets supporters after he registered for his party for the upcoming general election at a sport stadium in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Thailand goes to the polls on Sunday to vote in the first government since the coup d'état of September 2006. Two men are vying to become prime minister: Samak Sundaravej, 72, a political veteran and ally of the ousted leadership; and Abhisit Vejjajiva, nearly 30 years his junior, who stresses human rights and environmental concerns. Whoever wins, says Bloomberg, the next PM's restoration of democratic rule should kickstart a lagging economy.

Last year's coup saw Thailand's economic growth slow and consumer and business confidence plummet. Although Samak's bloc looks set to win the most seats, its allegiance with the banned frormer ruling party makes it isolated, meaning the much younger Abhisit might end up leading Thailand. One Bangkok citizen said he's glad just to have a choice: "As long as the new government knows how to manage the economy, it's OK."