Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thailand's Looming Succession Crisis

HM the King of Thailand has apparently a stroke and been hospitalized. King Bumibol is widely believed to have exerted a stabilizing impact on Thailand during times of crisis.

For the past year, Thailand has been under the rule of a caretaker government set up after a military coup deposed the elected Prime Minister, Thaksin. Elections for a new government are scheduled for December, but there have been persistent rumors about a second coup. In August The Economist neatly summed-up the situation:
The army may have doomed Thailand to further cycles of constitution, crisis, and coup. . . . The next flashpoint may not be far off. Hundreds of Mr. Thaksin's former MPs have regrouped under the banner of the People's Power Party (PPP). . . . But the generals will surely do their damnedest to thwart a Thakinite restoration.
Bloomberg reports on the king's health and the issue succession:
. . . few Thais publicly discuss the succession to the throne. Bhumibol's only son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, is most likely to succeed his father. . .

The crown could also pass to the unmarried Princess Sirindhorn, who shares her father's popularity, according to , according to Paul Handley, author of ``The King Who Never Smiles,'' a biography of Bhumibol. A 1974 constitutional change enabled a woman to ascend to the throne.

Thailand's present political situation is precarious by any measure. Long live the king!

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