PAD and the New Politics Party

10 10 2009

There has been speculation on the blogs that PAD and its New Politics Party (NPP) are becoming less “royalist” and more “green” – see their logo. It has also been said that they are moving further from the Democrat Party.

PPT also sees these variations in PAD and its party. However, whether these mark a fundamental change or just niche marketing remains very much a matter for further investigation and the passage of a little more political time.

Reading The Nation (10 October 2009: “Yellow shirts political party seeks one million members”) it seems to PPT that the NPP is seeking to distinguish itself from the Democrat Party for any future election. Both parties occupy a narrow political space that is royalist, nationalist, anti-Thaksin and essentially appealing to the Sino-Thai middle class.

On royalism, there is little to mark out PAD, NPP and the Democrat Party. The Democrats can claim a long heritage amongst royalists that goes back to the party’s founding. So differentiation is probably going to be in the other areas.

Nationalism is of course rolled-up with royalism. Even so, it is very much PAD-NPP turf because it has shown that it can be on-the-ground aggressive and extreme, something that the government is not really capable. Of course, the government can saber-rattle on Cambodia and can produce nonsense like warbling the national anthem. But PAD-NPP is much more street-savvy and has more latitude for extremism. This won’t be attractive to everyone, but it displays characteristics that are seen as a strength by many.

If NPP is to get the one million members it wants, it needs to develop policies and a profile that show how the Democrat Party is “old politics” – and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva seems to be helping them on this – and how the Democrats have failed its electoral constituencies, especially those in the middle class.

One way of doing the latter is to oppose constitutional amendments. The 2007 Constitution is viewed by many in PAD as a reasonable starting point for its “new politics.” Meanwhile, many in the middle class, fearing any return by Thaksin or pro-Thaksin parties, see constitutional amendments as facilitating that or at the very least “benefiting politicians.”

So it is that PAD are considering “street protests against the moves to amend the Constitution” should  that process move forward. (This is also one reason why Abhisit is stalling.)

Having Sondhi Limthongkul as NPP leader is one way for PAD to show the middle class that they will not back down on these issues, even if Sondhi might fall foul of electoral laws now that he has three defamation convictions.


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