A defeat for Abhisit would also be a blow to his royalist backers who fear losing control during a delicate succession, says Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, has been hospitalized since 2009 and recently underwent surgery.
“The elite do not wish to see a red government to be in charge during the critical [succession] period,” he says.
Abhisit’s main challenger is Yingluck Shinawatra, a businesswoman and Thaksin’s youngest sister. Her slick campaign has energized PTP supporters and drawn comparisons with Thaksin, who has called her his “clone”. She has declined calls for a televised debate with Abhisit, a skilled orator in Thai and English, and focused instead on choreographed campaign stops.
While Abhisit is scathing in his criticism of Thaksin, he sidesteps personal attacks on Ms. Yingluck, who has never held public office. “I think politicians need to develop their professionalism and experience in politics, but it’s up to the people whether they think that’s a relevant factor,” he told a group of foreign correspondents last week.