Countryaah reports, Thailand experienced a politically stormy year
and its fragile democracy seemed seriously threatened.
The newly formed People's Power (PPP) formed government
at the end of January, a month after the parliamentary
elections, together with five smaller parties. New Prime
Minister Samak Sundaravej, a supporter of the overthrown
The royalist, military-friendly middle and upper class in
Bangkok, whose demonstrations had helped provoke the
military coup in 2006, dismissed Samak as a puppet to
Thaksin. When the new government announced its intention to
try to change the constitution the military had written, new
protests erupted. The opponents, gathered in the People's
Alliance for Democracy (PAD), camped outside Samak's office
and blocked important junctions in Bangkok's street network.
While the conflict around the government was ongoing,
Thaksin Shinawatra returned from his escape and was
immediately brought to trial. He was prosecuted for having
used his office to have his wife buy real estate at a
The political crisis had financial consequences. The
prices fell steadily on the Bangkok stock exchange during
the spring and investors' confidence in the country
In July, the Foreign Minister resigned after the
Constitutional Court ruled that he violated his powers by
supporting Cambodia's attempt to get a temple at the joint
border of the countries included on the UN agency UNESCO
World Heritage List. Thai nationalists took the opportunity
to strike against the government by gathering at the temple
and bringing forward old demands for a border adjustment.
The demonstrations led for some time to tensions between the
countries, both of which brought together military forces
along the border.
In August, Thaksin and his wife were granted permission
to travel to Beijing to attend the Olympic inauguration.
From China, they announced that they did not intend to
return. However, the corruption trial continued, and in
October, Thaksin was sentenced in his absence to two years
The continued protests against the government hardened,
and after severe riots in early September, state of
emergency was issued in the capital. A few days later, the
government met its bleak end when a court ordered Samak to
resign because he illegally received money to participate in
a cooking show on TV. When PPP appointed Thaksin's
brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat as new prime minister, the
protests increased in strength. Tens of thousands of PAD
supporters occupied parts of the government office and
forced the Cabinet to relocate its operations to premises at
the disused Don Muang airport. In November, after several
months of uninterrupted demonstrations, PAD occupied both
Don Muang and the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
The government now moved to the city of Chiang Mai in
northern Thailand, while the country gradually closed to the
On December 2, the Constitutional Court ruled that PPP
and two of its partners had been guilty of electoral fraud.
All three parties dissolved and Somchai deposed. He and all
other senior officials in the three parties were banned from
political activity for five years.
The PPP immediately resurfaced in new form under the name
Pheu Thai (For the Thais) and claimed to form a new
government. There was a tug of war in Parliament over which
party constellation could gather a majority. An alliance
around the Democratic Party managed to gather the greatest
support and the party's leader Abhisit Vejjajiva took office
as prime minister, the country's fourth since the beginning
of the year. However, the contradictions persisted, and
Abhisit was forced to submit his government statement in the
Foreign Ministry's premises after PPP supporters had blocked
the parliament building.