Thai Floods' Political Damage

Although Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is being criticized for her failures in tackling Bangkok’s massive floods, three months of thunderstorms and decades of poor preparation are mostly to blame. Certainly, however, the floods, the worst in five decades, have dissolved the heavily scripted can-do image created by Yingluck’s brother, the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It may have been a tactical error to surround Bangkok with makeshift floodwalls in the vain attempt to divert millions of cubic meters of water outside the perimeter, seeking to save middle-class urbanites who voted in large numbers for the Democrat Party in elections earlier this year. The premier and her Pheu Thai Party government were inundating the rural poor who delivered the Thaksin-backed government to power in July national elections. Opponents are expected to use the management of floods and the resulting losses against the government in future elections. Government officials have repeatedly offered contradictory statements, assuring people that they were safe, and then advising them to flee for their lives.

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