Thailand’s upcoming general election in July will decide where the country will head in the next few years. After the reign of Thaksin, Thai politics has become much more “leadership-driven” and people now consider the quality of PM candidate as one of their voting factors.
We can’t deny that there are only two distinct PM candidates at present: the incumbent Abhisit Vejjejiva from Democrat Party and Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister from Pheua Thai Party. The voters will definitely decide who is better for the job but for now we will compare these two just according to their attributes.
As a Thai think-tank on politics and policy, Siam Intelligence Unit (SIU) evaluated both of the candidates and then put the results into comparison table. The goal is to provide the Thai public easy-to-read information for the election. It is quite popular in cyberspace with nearly 5,000 views, 150 tweets and 277 Facebook shares. So we decide to reach non-Thai readers who are interested in Thai politics too.
We use the data as of 20 May 2011, the day after Yingluck officially announced her campaign. As you can see, some details are missing. For the English version, we decide to keep the same information and leave it to the readers to give the score in the missing spots.
Quick explanation for the table:
We can see both are in their 40s. This is a good sign for Thai politics entering the new generation, no matter who will be the new PM.
While Yingluck has a masters degree from the USA, which is above Thai average education. Abhisit beats her on this front. He is true world elite: Eton, Oxford’s PPE and St John’s College.
Both are married. Abhisit has two children, Yingluck has one. Yingluck married without registration and a Democrat MP attacked her on this issue. He got a backlash from the Thai public and feminists. Chuan Leekpai, two times PM and former Democrat leader, also married without registration and has one son.
As a member of the Shinawatra family, Yingluck is definitely a millionaire (if not a billionaire). She also had a day job as a CEO of SC Asset, a public company. Abhisit’s family is also rich but he can’t compete with Yingluck with his fortune.
Abhisit was greeted by the foreign media as “photogenic PM” and many of his supporters are women. However, Yingluck is competitive as well. She has a good look, slim figure and modern style. Many Thai men are surely pleased with her media appearance. We give them a tie.
Abhisit wanted to be a politician since his he was a teenager and his family intentionally raised him as a PM candidate. He was Chuan’s assistant in his gap year at Oxford. Since then he has become a spokesman, a minister, a party leader, an opposition leader and finally the PM in one of toughest times in Thailand’s political history. So we give him a perfect score.
Yingluck shows her strong ability in her current campaign tour but she has no official political experience.
In his Oxford times, Abhisit was a head of a debating club. Not many Thai politicians dare to challenge him for a debate. Another perfect score for him.
At our evaluation time, Yingluck had not given any speeches so we give her unknown score but her current campaign in North/Northeastern Thailand show that she is a good speaker too.
Abhisit has been attacked in his reign on the basis that he can only speak. Thailand was not a failed state during his time but we can’t say he is good on administration. We give him 2 of 5.
Yingluck has full business administration experience but we have two criticisms:
- Being an exec from the Shinawatra family in a Shin Corp company is not so tough, right?
- Business administration is not exactly the same as country administration.
So we can’t give any score to Yingluck yet.
On the one hand, Abhisit showed his strong leadership skill during 2010 military crackdown (even if many did not agree with his approach). On the other hand, he showed the lack of leadership as well: during Thailand’s 2010 flood, the controversy with Cambodia and the appointment of Royal Thai Police head. We give him 3 of 5.
We can’t give any score to Yingluck, as stated in previous points.
Abhisit has a degree in Economics but he usually assigned the finance & banking tasks to Korn Chatikavanij, the Finance Minister (also Eton and Oxford graduate). He is not outstanding PM on economic policy and got 3/5 from us.
By business nature, Yingluck should know a lot about economics. But as stated above, we can’t give her a concrete score before she really takes the top job.
Relationship with Red Shirts
While some of progressive red shirts think Yingluck is Thaksin’s nominee, almost all red shirts are pleased with her “true Shinawatra blood”. We give her a perfect score.
In the other side, Abhisit is red shirts’ biggest enemy. Especially after the May 2010 crackdown.
Relationship with Yellow Shirts
Yingluck is Thaksin’s sister, a taboo in the yellow shirts’ world.
Abhisit was a dearest politician in the yellow shirts’ eyes but after a dispute on Cambodian border, he is now the yellow shirts’ biggest enemy too. Poor him.
Acceptance from Thai Middle Class
In Bangkok, the Democrat Party won a landslide in the 2007 general election. His clean, elite, and good looking nature catch Thai middle class heart completely. Two and a half years later, some are still his fans but many think he is not competitive and can’t bring the country to peace.
Yingluck hasn’t faced a vote before so we can’t decide. But now many polls show her popularity is rising very quickly.