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Profile: Thailand's 27th Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
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14:55, December 15, 2008

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Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was elected as Thailand's 27th Prime Minister during a special House voting session on Monday, pending royal endorsement.

Abhisit was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England to an elite family from Bangkok in 1964. His parents were both medical professors. His father once served as Deputy Minister of Public Health.

Abhisit graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and later obtained a Master's Degree in Economics from Oxford University, Britain.

He taught briefly at Thailand's Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, and once served as a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University of Thailand.

Abhisit began his political career in 1992 as a Democrat MP for Bangkok constituency. He was reelected to the same seat in 1995 and 1996.

In the elections of 2001 and 2005, he won his seat at the Houseof Representatives as a Party List MP for the Democrat Party.

He has served as Democrat Party spokesman, Government spokesman, Deputy-Secretary to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs, Chairman of the House Education Affairs Committee, and Minister to the Prime Minister's Office.

In 2005, Abhisit was picked as Democrat Party leader to replace Banyat Bantadtan who resigned following a flat defeat by Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party in the 2005 general election.

The Democrat Party joined with two other major opposition parties in boycotting the April 2006 snap election called by the Thaksin government.

However, the party failed to obtain immediate political gains from the Sept. 19, 2006 military coup that ousted Thaksin.

The Democrat Party was left alone on the opposition bench after the reincarnation of disbanded Thai Rak Thai party -- People PowerParty led by Samak Sundaravej won the post-coup general election on Dec. 23, 2007 and formed a six-party coalition government.

In a House voting in January 2008, Abhisit lost to Samak for the post of prime minister, receiving 163 votes against 310 votes for Samak.

After Samak was disqualified by the Constitutional Court as PM in early September, Abhisit lost the parliament voting for Samak's successor 163:298 to Somchai Wongsawat on Sept. 17, 2008.

Abhisit is seen as a new-generation politician, young, well-educated, representing an urban elite class. As Democrat leader, he enjoys support from the urban middle-class, especially those from Bangkok and southern Thailand. However, he might find it harder to win the hearts of the rural grass-root population in the North and South, which are considered the traditional voter strong base for Thaksin and his allies with a populist policy platform.

In his recent policy promotion agenda, Abhisit has turned to an approach that bears much similarity with Thaksin's populist legacy in attempts to win over the poorer people.

Source: Xinhua



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