Dictatorship as the “standard form of government”

6 06 2016

In a commentary at Japan’s Nikkei, academic Nicholas Farrelly, one of the founders of New Mandala, looks at Thailand’s “standard form of government,” the military dictatorship.

He notes that since the May 2014 coup, “General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his ruling clique have taken to the stage with relish” and he observes that Prayuth has a “deep commitment to eliminating the political influence of perceived enemies.” Those “enemies” are politicians who kept winning elections and their supporters. Prayuth wears his anti-democrat color on his sleeve and it is bright yellow.Prayuth

That is why, As Farrelly, says, a “fundamental worry for Prayuth’s team [he means the junta] is that any movement towards a democratic system of government opens the door to the return of forces allied with deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

This is why “Prayuth’s preferred constitution” is essentially anti-democratic, aimed at “stopping Thaksin and anyone who might seek to emulate his electoral success.”

Interestingly, Farrelly argues that the 2007-14 period was one where the military played a political game – with lots of violence – in order to be in a position to “fully re-assert control.” He adds that they want to control succession.

One reason they are now so motivated to maintain that stranglehold is that King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health continues to fade. After his 70 years on the throne, Thailand will eventually confront succession.

Along the way, Prayuth’s junta has relentlessly disenfranchised voters, reinstated repressive measures not seen since the 1970s and appeared dinosaur-like to many outsiders and some investors. All of this has put the old elite back in charge:

What will count … is the negotiation of power among a Bangkok-focused elite — the palaces, their loyal generals, bureaucratic and judicial servants, and the right kind of top business players. That small circle wants to shape the rules such that their incumbent advantages accrue to the next generation and the one after that.

There seems “no obvious end to its self-inflicted wounds.” The military has been firmly entrenched on the political stage.