As Donald Trump continues to defy the results of the election, the globe is searching for parallels to discern where its biggest economy is headed.
Vladimir Putin’s name comes up quite a bit. So does that of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and others who refused to concede defeat. But the best Asia-region corollary may be Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra, the man whose long shadow has stretched across his nation—and economy— for much of the 14 years since he left the premiership.
In 2006, Thaksin was ousted in a coup that resulted in a period of post-leadership chaos in Bangkok that many in Washington are now seeking to avoid. The easiest way to think of Thaksin is as the Silvio Berlusconi of Southeast Asia. The telecom billionaire harnessed his wealth, national profile and raw charisma to excel in politics.
But like Thaksin, Trump makes it clear he has no intention of receding from the national scene, perhaps even running for president again in 2024. And to rile his base—and more than 100 million-plus social-media followers—to make life difficult for the Biden White House.
It’s the Thaksin playbook. After fleeing Bangkok in 2006 to London and elsewhere, Thaksin held any number of televised political rallies from afar. He riled up supporters with claims the fraud and corruption cases against him were trumped-up. He complained that all governments that succeeded him were failing and were to blame for per capita income that’s just $7,800.