THAKSINISM is back in Thailand. Almost four years after Thaksin Shinawatra’s ousting, while he shuttles by private jet from one haven to the next, under threat of jail at home, with 76 billion Thai baht ($2.5bn) of assets seized or frozen, his disciples are poised to reclaim government with huge popular support.
Failing another coup beforehand, or a constitutional ambush afterwards, the Thaksinist party Pheu Thai looks certain to take power whenever Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva calls an election.
If either of those hazards eventuated again – after Thaksin policies won the three legitimate elections of the past decade, only for Thaksinist governments to be twice ejected without public consultation – Thailand would be at risk of civil war.
“It is already close to civil war now,” nods Pithaya Pookaman, a former diplomat and senior Pheu Thai member who functions as a conduit between the exiled leader and the new party. “I don’t want to try to visualise how this would happen – it’s too scary for me.”