Royals and politics

22 01 2014

Some quotations from recent articles:

The Economist explains Why Thai politics is broken:

For Mr Thaksin’s supporters … the problem is that he has threatened the interests of the old Thai establishment, represented by the civil service, the army, the judiciary and the monarchy. They portray the protests as an anti-democratic backlash from a privileged class under threat.

Large, influential sections of Thai society find rule by the [Shinawatra] family simply intolerable. They will use almost any tactic to unseat it, including accusing it of disloyalty to the much-revered king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. That the king is 86 and frail, and his presumed successor, the crown prince, is unpopular, and seen as perhaps susceptible to Mr Thaksin’s influence, fuels the sense of panic in the opposition.

Council of Foreign Relations on Thai Royalty Becomes More Openly Involved in Politics:

Thailand’s royal family has, during the reign of King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, always been far more closely involved in Thai politics than any constitutional monarch would be. However, until the past decade, the royal family usually conducted its interventions behind the scenes. The king and his allies normally acted behind at least a veil of deniability, so that in times of crisis, the king could potentially play the role of mediator and neutral-broker.

The article then refers to an article by Pavin Chachavalpongpun who, at New Mandala, rounded up material that had been widely circulated on social media and made it available in English. The final quote from the CFR article is:

To some observers of Thai politics, the open politicization of the royal family is a disaster—a shift that further undermines civilian, democratic leaders and reduces the monarchy’s ability to play a neutral, mediating, above-politics function. But, in the long run, this politicization, combined with the eventual reign of a king who enjoys far less public trust and love than Rama IX, could actually be a net positive for Thai democracy. As the monarchy loses some degree of public trust, other democratic institutions eventually will have to assume the role of mediator and crisis-solver, and a real constitutional monarchy can develop in Thailand.

Nothing new in this – see here and here – but always worth saying again and again.

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