Former Thai PM Thaksin Will Be Freed Early

    Former Thai PM Thaksin Will Be Freed Early
    Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to be freed — potentially by this weekend. This comes six months after his return from 15 years in self-imposed exile and subsequent arrest.

    • He was sentenced to eight years in prison for abuse of power and corruption charges last August, but his jail term was reduced to one year as Thailand's king granted him a royal pardon.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Thaksin Shinawatra remains one of Thailand's most divisive political figures. His release from prison at a tense political time shows that the Thai elite isn't committed to democracy. When rival forces join hands to release a populist leader accused of severe human rights abuses, it's clear that the country's powerful conservative and royalist establishment wants to protect the status quo at any cost.

    Narrative B

    Thaksin's release isn't politically motivated — he had met the criteria for parole as he's over 70, suffers from chronic illness, and has completed his six months. He represents the people at the grassroots level, which is why Thaksin has been a central figure in Thai politics for two decades. Now that he's free, Thaksin could serve the country again, balance urban and rural interests, and bring long-sought political stability.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 75% chance that Thailand will experience a successful coup d'etat before 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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