Thailand will hold a long-awaited federal election on July 3, pitting the governing Democrat Party against the opposition Puea Thai party, as well as a group of smaller parties. For some Thai politicians, this poll will be the culmination of a process of national reconciliation that began in the wake of bloody riots in Bangkok last April and May, during which at least eighty people were killed, hundreds were injured, and an unknown numbers of protestors were taken into police custody, often without charges filed.
But the election could simply accelerate Thailand’s political meltdown, underway since a coup in September 2006 deposed then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled into exile. Most likely, the poll will not resolve the increasingly deep divisions in Thai society–between the rural poor who have backed Thaksin and the urban middle classes; between archroyalist supporters of the Thai monarchy and those who would like a real constitutional monarchy; and between residents of the north and northeast of Thailand and residents of Bangkok and the south.
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