Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand

Critics say that Yingluck Shinawatra's only political qualification is that she's the youngest sister of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It's not an outrageous claim. Yingluck, who studied public administration at Kentucky State University, has spent much of her adult life working at a property business Thaksin founded. But on May 17 she rose to national prominence after the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party selected her as its leader. Just two weeks later, on July 3, her party won 265 of 500 parliamentary seats, and on Aug. 5 the Thai parliament officially confirmed her as Premier. Besides overcoming suggestions that her brother is running the country from exile, Yingluck must now deliver on her populist pledges — raising the minimum wage, providing free public wi-fi and giving every schoolchild a tablet PC — without ruining the economy. She'll also need to navigate Thailand's prickly relationship with Cambodia, as well as attempt to reconcile the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts and the antigovernment Yellow Shirts, who helped bring down her brother's government.