Why did the Democrat Party lose?

12 08 2011

The Democrat Party should have been humiliated by its massive election defeat. It should have been able to identify its failures and should be able to learn from them.* The increasingly rightist-royalist Bangkok Post has a brief interview with Prachuap Khiri Khan member of parliament Chalermchai Sri-on who recently replaced Suthep Thaugsuban as secretary-general of the Democrat Party. Chalermchai suggests that nothing much is likely to change for the party.

In the first place, Chalermchai claims he took his new position because re-elected Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva recommended him to replace Suthep. Chalermchai says the “the party leader picked” him.

It seems that despite “having blood on his hands,” Abhisit is as far as the royalist party can currently see. The party is unable to understand that Mark’s Teflon-coating has been scratched and eroded. He is damaged and is unlikely to be seen by the electorate as a viable candidate for prime minister for some time or unless there is some major political implosion. Abhisit is to be forever associated with the military’s manipulation of politics, his puppet-like relationship with the military and the political old guard and the bloody crackdown on red shirts in 2010.

When asked why the Democrat Party lost, Chalermchai claims the “defeat holds out lessons.” What has been learned? Chalermchai says the “main reason is a lack of channels to send out messages to people. Even though we were the government, our communication channels were insufficient.We initiated policies based on reality as we saw it, but some needed time to implement.”

Chalermchai seems to ignore the most basic reasons for the party’s failure: the party is associated with military repression. The party is associated with anti-democratic actions. Chalermchai seems to think that a bit of better PR will make all the difference: “we must seek out professionals to help us work on some areas.” He then pinpoints what the real problem with the party is: “We must listen more to the voices of people around us, our party members or even the media.”

Well, yes, but it depends on who the “people around us” are. It seems to PPT that the Democrat Party has spent most of its time listening to rich bankers, right-wing royalists, old men in the palace and military leaders who believe that they live in the 1960s. All of these people are demonstrably out of touch with the people. Listening to these same people and the royalist extremists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and those who pushed for a coup in 2006 is simply not going to work if the Democrat Party is going to take representative politics seriously.

If Chalermchai is to be believed, then nothing has been learned. That’s bad for the future of democratic politics in Thailand.

*As we finished this post, we noted Suranand Vejjajiva’s consideration of similar questions, and he’s worth reading.



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12 08 2011

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