THAI DEMOCRACY PARTIES WIN THIN MAJORITY

Thailand's general election is being hailed as a milestone on the country's arduous road to democracy. But the victors are still likely to face hurdles ranging from die-hard militarists to endemic corruption.

The weekend election saw the four key pro-democracy parties gain a narrow majority in Parliament. Chuan Leekpai, a leader of the reformist Democrat Party, is expected to be named prime minister.

Reasons cited for the dramatic turnabout from Thailand's history of pro-military governments include: the widespread antimilitary mood; a media virtually unfettered by the government; the rise of nongovernmental organizations propagating democracy; and the skill and integrity of the government of interim Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun.

The coalition must now smooth over past clashes among the partners and stamp its imprint on Parliament and government. Pro-democracy lawmakers will have to contend with a Senate stocked with military men and strong, rich political parties linked to the military.

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