Bowring on the election outcome

7 07 2011

Philip Bowring at The Irrawaddy has a sensible take on the election outcome. He begins: “Thailand’s Democrat Party deservedly got its comeuppance in Sunday’s Pheu Thai landslide for having abandoned its principles and come to power through a combination of military intervention and abuse of the judicial process. The sheer scale of the pro-Thaksin victory should leave the military and monarchist forces in no doubt at all that attempt[s] to thwart this popular verdict can only have tragic consequences that would radicalize many who saw the election as an opportunity for the nation to return to a democratic path.”

He continues: “The result should also leave no doubt that support for the monarchy, though still robust, may be increasingly conditional on the monarchy itself distancing itself from some of its more extreme self-proclaimed defenders and recognizing that the next monarch will have to accept a much less exalted status than King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch.”

He warns: “The bigger question now is whether Thaksin is any closer to understanding the resentments he aroused when in power, not just from old elites but from those who felt the force of his authoritarian instincts.”

He observes: “The Democrats … lost any claim to moral high ground with their alliance with the Yellow Shirts, the military and monarchist extremists, and their acceptance of a constitution imposed by the 2006 coup which undid much of the good of the 1997 charter and sought not to strengthen independent institutions but entrench the most conservative forces in power.”

He asks: “Have the Democrats really seen the folly of aligning with one set of authoritarians to counter Thaksin’s behavior? Has the Thaksin camp learned that unless it conducts government with a modicum of honesty and fair play towards opponents in the democratic process there will eventually be another rightwing reaction supported by many middle class people who don’t belong to the old elite?”

Well worth a read in full.





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