Thailand’s first female premier has already clinched a place in the history books, but she could struggle to survive a full term in office and end her country’s cycle of instability, analysts say.
Yingluck Shinawatra, a political novice who is set to take office this week, swept to an election victory last month with the support of her fugitive brother Thaksin, who is loathed by the elite and was toppled in a 2006 coup.
Experts say her own political endurance and prospects of achieving unity after years of turmoil are now threatened by those family ties.
Serving a full four-year term in Thailand is the exception rather than the rule, with Thaksin the only elected premier ever to have done so.
His removal by the army in 2006 has heralded five years of political crises both in the Thai parliament and on the streets, where his elite-backed foes and his mainly working-class supporters have held crippling rival protests.
Any attempt to oust Yingluck — who is expected to receive royal endorsement on Monday before naming her cabinet — would risk a similar upswell of anger among Thaksin’s many followers.
The situation escalated last year when dozens were killed in clashes between the army and “Red Shirt” protesters who largely support Thaksin for his populist policies and have helped to propel his sister to the premiership.
Her staying power will rest on appeasing both the Reds, who are calling for justice over last year’s violence, and the opposing elites around the palace and military who hated her brother’s authoritarian style of leadership.