More than three months after Thailand’s national elections – and many anti-democratic manoeuvres in parliament – the country finally has a new prime minister, Srettha Thavisin. But, given the chaotic nature of Thai politics, this was perhaps not even the biggest news of the week.

Hours before the partially military-appointed Thai parliament elected Srettha to the post, one of the country’s most prominent political figures, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra,  from his self-imposed exile of more than 15 years and surrendered to authorities over longstanding corruption charges.

There are now many questions about what this blockbuster day for Thai politics means for the country’s future – and what it means for democracy.

Who is Thaksin and why is he important?

Thaksin became prime minister Austria WhatsApp Number List in 2001 after a thumping election win and remained the country’s most popular politician, even through his long years of exile.

Thaksin’s extraordinary popularity as prime minister challenged the primacy of the monarchy and the military in the country.

The conflict resulted in two military coups, in 2006 and 2014. The first removed Thaksin from power, prompting him to go into exile to avoid prosecution. The second, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, deposed Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as prime minister. (She was later convicted of criminal negligence in Thailand’s pliant courts and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. She remains in exile.)

The Supreme Court announced he would serve eight years.

Thaksin Shinawatra (centre) greets supporters upon his arrival at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok. Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

How did Srettha become PM?

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Having consistently opposed the military, Pheu Thai made a commitment before this year’s election not to form a coalition with the military-aligned parties.

This gave Srettha the support he needed from the military-appointed senators to win the prime ministership.

Both Move Forward and Pheu Thai cphonenumber had been vocal critics of the former military-led government.

However, the two parties had different stances on one main issue: Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté law, which punishes anyone who criticises the king or other senior royals with up to 15 years in prison. Move Forward pledged to reform it, while Pheu Thai committed not to change it.

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