What the junta gains

28 09 2017

There has been considerable speculation regarding what Yingluck Shinawatra’s “flight” and now her sentencing means for politics.

One commentator at The Nation reckons that yesterday’s court verdict means the military junta is “now able to tighten its grip on the country…”.

For one thing, the verdict, even though fully expected, adds weight to the dictatorship’s claims that elected politicians are corrupt and self-serving. (We are ignoring the junta’s obvious faults that we’ve highlighted for years.)

For Yingluck, the “verdict has put her in the same position as her brother, who fled the country to avoid a charge in a case involving a Ratchadaphisek land deal.” The junta can refer to both as “fugitives.” That cheers the anti-democrats who may be uncomfortable with the junta, but are attached to it as an anti-democratic bastion.

As the article states, Puea Thai continues to look good in polls, especially in the north and northeast. However, without Thaksin, Yingluck and the large number of reds shirts and other Puea Thai leaders who were electorally attractive, and with the junta changing rules and running the show, the dictatorship is hoping that the party’s support will plummet.

There are also some in the junta who hope that, without Yingluck, some of Puea Thai’s senior figures may leave the party and link up with other parties (a throwback to earlier times).

The article speculates that the junta now has the political advantage. That’s no insight, given that the junta has held most of the political cards since its coup. Yet the claim that, with “Yingluck’s guilt declared, military leaders can claim legitimacy and prolong their stay in office,” is likely to be confirmed.

With Yingluck out of the scene, some feel the junta can now “attack her without fearing resistance from her supporters.” The article adds that:

If nothing changes, the junta can take a strong stand in the election under its “roadmap to democracy” and control the situation better than before, while being able to determine the fate at the polls.

There’s a lot of speculation but the claims that the junta will campaign harder and act tougher to ensure its people rule into the future is pretty much assured. It will certainly feel more comfortable with Thailand’s last legitimate prime minister out of the country.


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