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Real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin secured enough votes in parliament to become Thailand’s new prime minister Tuesday, finally ending the political deadlock in the Southeast Asian country following May’s elections, CNBC reported.
Srettha, a candidate of the populist Pheu Thai Party, received 482 votes, including from conservative and military-backed lawmakers.
Since March, Thailand has been under a caretaker government because of a parliamentary deadlock.
The Move Forward party emerged as the largest group after May’s parliamentary election, but its bid for leadership was thwarted when its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, fell 51 votes short of the required 375 votes needed to become prime minister.
This paved the way for Pheu Thai – the second largest party in the legislature – to pursue power on its own after initially supporting Move Forward.
On Monday, Pheu Thai announced an 11-party coalition, gathering 314 votes to form a government. However, this political union also includes pro-military parties associated with former Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Srettha will inherit the task to revitalize Thailand after almost 10 years of military rule and to improve its economy, which grew by 1.8 percent in the second quarter but fell short of the expected 3.1 percent expansion.
His appointment also coincided with the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister and Pheu Thai’s founder, to Thailand after 15 years of self-imposed exile. Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and has been living abroad to avoid charges of corruption, the Guardian wrote.
He now faces eight years in prison, but analysts noted that the former leader could request a pardon from the new Pheu Thai-led government.
Even so, observers added that it’s unclear if Pheu Thai will be able to grant that pardon, and also questioned the stability of the 11-party coalition.
The political union will likely hold together for now, driven by a shared interest in preventing the Move Forward party from entering the government.