Puea Thai failing red shirts II

29 04 2012

The Puea Thai Party may well be remembered in 5-10 years for having comprehensively defeated the royalist-palace party in the 2011 election. If it is remembered for anything else, we at PPT suspect that it is going to be for betraying red shirts.

In fact, that the party of Thaksin Shinawatra would jettison the red shirt movement should not be a surprise.

PPT’s doesn’t attribute this to any particular “deal”  between the Sinawatra tag team and the royalist elite. Rather, we see a desire by Thaksin’s side and the royalist elite for a “normalization” of Thai politics.

After their 6+ year battle, fought to a stalemate, both Thaksin and Prem and the people they represent are worn out. The Puea Thai Party’s election landslide demonstrated to Prem that his efforts to promote a royalist state had not succeeded, but nor had it failed). The instrument of that effort was the Army, and it hadn’t won a decisive victory.

Thaksin hasn’t won either – he’s still in exile – but nor has he lost. Prem’s side was no match for Thaksin when he was with the mobilized red shirts, but that alliance hadn’t established its political hegemony.

Thaksin’s party might have won the 2011 election, but a landslide election victory is not the same as defeating the conservative royalist elite.

While this stalemate might be a cause for dealing, there is something even more fundamental at work.

The elite, whether royalist or plain garden variety, now faces a challenge that it created.  As we have long pointed out, the elite is most fundamentally threatened when there is a politicization and mobilization of the unruly masses.

While the royalist elite co-operated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy against Thaksin and the red shirts, the relationship was neither natural nor normal. The same may be said for the relationship between those congregating around Thaksin. He co-operated with the red shirts, but this is not anatural political relationship.

For the elite, both the yellow shirts and the red shirts are really very scary.

It seems that reconciliation is fundamentally about reconciling elite factions and demobilizing the scary masses.

PPT wonders if the red shirts can be easily demobilized or whether they can develop further as a political force. If the red shirts can’t develop further, then the royalist elite has a victory that a few short months ago would have seemed unlikely without substantial bloodshed. In essence, Puea Thai and Thaksin will have delivered victory to the royalists if they can depoliticize the red shirts.

That said, we acknowledge that much has changed and that political struggles are not the same now as they were just a few years ago.


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3 responses

6 05 2012
Lese majeste and democracy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] continuation of the use of the law under Yingluck is due to a “deal” with the elite, we remain unconvinced. Deal or no deal, the question of why the law and trials continue […]

6 05 2012
Lese majeste and the ruling class « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] continuation of the use of the law under Yingluck is due to a “deal” with the elite, we remain unconvinced. Deal or no deal, the question of why the law and trials continue […]

6 05 2012
Lese majeste and the ruling class « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] thinks the continuation of the use of the law under Yingluck is due to a “deal” with the elite, we remain unconvinced. Deal or no deal, the question of why the law and trials continue […]




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