Chuan LeekpaiThai political leader
Trained as an attorney, Chuan has been active in Thai politics since 1969, rising to lead the Democrat party. He is derided by critics as overly willing to compromise, though supporters point to his success in forming coalition governments. He first ruled as prime minister from September 1992–July 1995, the longest reign of any popularly elected official in Thailand's history. The November 1997 elections returned Chuan to power as he formed another coalition government with representatives from eight different parties. Chuan's priorities remain with the working class, from which he comes. Despite cutbacks in government spending necessitated by the economic crisis that began in July 1997 with the massive devaluation of the bhat, the average Thai had confidence that Chuan would look out for them and had their interests at heart. The economy improved over the next several years. In 2001 Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”) party won the election and Shinawatra took over as prime minister. Chuan Leepkai stepped down as head of the Democratic Party in 2003.