Thailand's political crisis: The key street players

Thailand's political crisis: The key street players
Clockwise: Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Suthep Thaugsuban and a 'Red shirt' supporter

BANGKOK - A patchwork of protesters are trying to topple Thailand's government. They include supporters of the main opposition Democrat Party, ultra-royalist heirs of the "Yellow Shirt" movement and individuals united by their hatred of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Here are sketches of some of the main forces threatening the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, and also of the pro-Thaksin "Red Shirts".

1) The electoral base of the Democrat Party

The main group of protesters is led by Suthep Thaugsuban, a deputy prime minister when the Democrats were in power. He calls for Yingluck's departure and the creation of an unelected "People's Council".

Suthep resigned from his party before protests escalated.

The Democrats have traditionally drawn support from the Bangkok-based elite - officials, judges, the military and elements close to the Royal Palace - who see Thaksin and his "Red Shirt" supporters as a threat to the monarchy and their own place at the top of the hierarchy.

They have not won a national election in 20 years, but enjoy strong support in Bangkok and the southern heartlands.

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was prime minister from 2008 to 2011, has shied away from centre stage as the protests have intensified.

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