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Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 09:48 UK

Embattled Thai PM survives vote

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej smiles in the Thai parliament during Friday's failed no-confidence motion
Mr Samak's government is under fire on several fronts

The Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has survived a vote of no confidence in parliament.

A motion introduced by the opposition Democrats was defeated by 280 votes out of 470.

The result was expected, as the governing coalition holds a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

But the government's performance was harshly criticised by deputies in a debate lasting several days, and some ministers now risk losing their jobs.

Battle scars

The result of this vote was hardly surprising, as the governmentís coalition partners were unlikely to abandon it just four months into the new administration.

But the week-long proceedings leading up to this vote were publicly broadcast.

The party which did so well in last Decemberís elections is now looking battle-scarred and weary after a very public dressing-down in parliament by the main opposition.

Mr Samak defended himself with characteristic bravado - but he may yet have to sack some of his ministers, and his own political future is unclear.

He is vulnerable because his cabinet - many of them cronies and relatives of more powerful politicians who were banned from office while Thailand was under military rule - has performed poorly.

Thaksin in shadows

It has failed to address the challenges of rising food and fuel prices which are hitting all countries in the region.

And it underestimated the nationalist backlash when it agreed to support Cambodiaís bid to have a disputed temple on their border listed as a UN World Heritage Site.

Mr Samak is also under constant pressure from the influential aristocratic elite here - they believe he is acting as a nominee for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a still-powerful figure who lingers in the wings of Thailandís political stage.



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