Family Matters

On Sunday, Thailand will elect a new prime minister who belongs to a very familiar, and deeply divisive, family.

BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

BANGKOK — The face of the woman likely to become Thailand’s first female prime minister has been staring out for weeks from thousands of political campaign posters here in the country’s capital. On one poster, the 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra is dressed in a sober black and white suit, dark locks cascading over her shoulders; in another, she greets a sea of supporters, hands pressed together in the traditional Thai gesture of greeting. The front-runner in Sunday, July 3’s national elections, Yingluck has campaigned masterfully.

Since being appointed candidate of the opposition Pheu Thai party in May, she has traveled across the country, donning a hijab in the Muslim south and electrifying audiences in the rural northeast. And she has also amply leveraged her family pedigree to vault herself from relative obscurity to ubiquitous fame. But if her last name helps her to win the vote, she’s likely to discover it will also deepen the tensions of her increasingly divided country.

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