Thailand elects Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s first female Prime Minister

Added by on August 5, 2011

Yingluck Shinawatra at parliament in Bangkok / Photo: Rungroj Yongrit – EPA

Yingluck Shinawatra was elected as Thailand’s 28th and first female prime minister on Friday, in a special session of the House of Representatives, just one month after her party won an absolute majority in the country’s elections.

Ms. Yingluck, who has never held a political office before, is seen as being in touch with the business world at large, global markets, and plebeian Thailand. Her political career spans just 80 days and she is now faced with delivering on her party’s promises that include a big increase in the country’s minimum wage, construction of new high-speed rail lines, revamping the healthcare system, and providing tables computers to all primary school students.

Ms. Yingluck’s career has been focused on her family’s business as chief executive officer of Advanced Info Service, Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator. People that have worked with her describe her as a leader that focuses on fairness and building consensus.

Many attribute her quick rise in fame, and now in power, to her brother Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister in was ousted in a 2006 military coup and then exiled from Thailand. Thaksin Shinawatra is thought to continue to exert a significant influence on key decisions and policies in the incoming government. The point is exemplified by Ms. Yingluck’s party’s, Pheu Thai, campaign slogans like “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts”.

In an interview before the win Yingluck said,”In terms of the principles of politics, I think I understand well…[Thailand]…needs someone who has leadership, who has the management skills to help the country.”