Party of Ousted Prime Minister Wins Thai Races

Polarizing figure booted in coup may return from exile
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2007 6:15 AM CST
An elephants dressed in a Santa Claus costume puts a vote in a ballot box during a promotion for the general election at a school in Ayutthaya province northern Bangkok, 21 December 2007. The country's...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Deposed former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is poised to return from exile now that the party supporting him won the most seats in parliament in today's elections, according to exit polls. It was unclear, however, whether the pro-Thaksin People Power party gained an absolute majority. If not, opposition parties still have a chance to cobble together a coalition government.

A December 2006 coup unseated Thaksin, a populist figure and billionaire who faces corruption charges but remains beloved by poor and rural Thais for the cheap loans and medical care his regime provided. Thai voters hope today's election will resolve the political instability that has crippled the country since the coup, but many hold low expectations for a coalition government.