On Friday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced he would dissolve Parliament in the first week of May, paving the way for Thailand’s next general election, to take place in June or July. Last year’s red shirt protests, which resulted in the deaths of 91 people and injuries to at least 2,000, aimed to force Abhisit to dissolve parliament immediately. One year later, the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) will get the elections it wanted. But what do these polls really mean for the red shirt movement?
The UDD is set to take its “fight for real democracy” or “fight to bring back Thaksin Shinawatra” – depending on who you ask – to the ballot box. The seven recently bailed red shirt leaders will stand as Pheu Thai candidates. On Saturday night, Thaksin phoned in from Dubai to 50,000 red supporters gathered at Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue, telling them to vote for Pheu Thai. “If you vote [for Pheu Thai] to win by a landslide, I would come back to solve Thailand’s economic problems and make the country boom again within six months,” he said, not a man known for modesty.