Last Wednesday, Yingluck Shinawatra lost her job as Prime Minister in Thailand. She was removed by the country’s Constitutional Court, which ruled she had abused power in 2011 when she transferred a civil servant to a different post.
On Thursday, lest the prospects for Yingluck’s political future not be clear, Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Court separately indicted and recommended impeachment proceedings against the ousted Prime Minister for her role in a national rice subsidy program. As a result, Yingluck may face up to a five-year ban from politics and criminal charges.
Dramatic as these developments may seem, for those who follow Thai politics none of this is shocking. For months, anti-government protestors have been baying in the streets for Yingluck’s government to be gone. (When they had a chance to vote her out in February, they boycotted the election because they had no chance of winning it.)
Thailand’s courts, the realm of the country’s elites, are notoriously stacked against Yingluck’s party, and two lower courts had already made similar rulings about the 2011 personnel transfer. The Constitutional Court’s verdict brought the “judicial coup” many had been expecting and simply sets the stage for the next chapter of grinding political conflict that has gripped Thailand ever since Yingluck’s brother Thaksin was in power. (Thaksin was the last of Thai leaders to be ousted the old-school way, by military coup in 2006.)
Surprising, no. But troubling for Thailand’s economy? Increasingly, yes.
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