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Thailand really, truly certifies first female prime minister

Weeks of coup, legal speculation end as Yingluck voted in by parliament
Yingluck thailand 2011 08 05Enlarge
Elected in July, Thailand's Yingluck Shinawatra, 44, is the kingdom's first female prime minister. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

It's official: Thailand's parliament has voted in Yingluck Shinawatra, a 44-year-old political novice, as the nation's first female prime minister.

But wait a minute. Didn't the world's media, including Global Post, report her victory at the polls more than a month ago?

Yes. But in Thailand, just because your party wins an election doesn't mean you get to run the country.

The military can always exercise its veto power -- staging a coup -- to cancel out election results and push through a new constitution. The army has pulled the coup card 18 times, most recently against the new prime minister's brother, Thaksin, who was ousted in 2006.

Photos: Yingluck's Shinawatra's path to victory

Since Yingluck's win at the polls, her backers have fretted that some institution would somehow snatch away her victory. Conventional wisdom suggests that even the military's old guard realizes a tanks-in-the-streets coup is out of fashion. More likely are legal rulings for fraud, which can be found in any Thai political party.

Such findings can dissolve an entire party. That's was the fate of the last two parties headed by Yingluck's brother, Thaksin.

Paranoia among Yingluck supporters is forgivable. But if the military or any other institution wanted to disqualify her before she started her new job, they likely would have played their cards already.

But now comes the hard part for Yingluck: leading a country with lagging education standards, a fierce Islamic insurgency and a population eager for the wage hikes, rail lines and tablet PC giveaways just promised them during the campaign.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/thailand-really-truly-certifies-first-female-prime-ministe