Veera in the Bangkok Post:

The Democrat Party’s decision on Saturday to boycott the Feb 2 election is understandable. It is pointless to contest a poll which will lead it nowhere [BP: i.e. where they won't win], except back into the same political quagmire that beset the country before the election.

Speaking on television on Saturday, Ms Yingluck promised that after the Feb 2 election, a national reform council will be set up to craft a national reform blueprint.

The council will be made up of representatives from all professional groups and educational institutes, as well as political parties and the state bureaucracy. The council will be in office for just two years.

The big question is, can she or her Pheu Thai Party be trusted, given their tainted credibility of the past two years?

The Democrat Party and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban, do not trust any of them _ which is unsurprising. Most protesters share the same suspicion and mistrust.

Where is the guarantee that the Pheu Thai Party will keep its word on national reform after the election? If the party wins the election, who can force the party to keep its promises? The mistrust for Ms Yingluck and her Pheu Thai-led government is not without basis.

And hopefully, with the help of a mediator acceptable to the two protagonists, Pheu Thai and the PDRC can talk to resolve their conflict in a peaceful manner.

BP: Veera doesn’t trust Yingluck, but who should we trust? Suthep? The options we have now is Suthep’s model of reform vs Yingluck’s model (which is supported by the government coalition partners). There is nothing else on the table now that is backed by anyone with any level of support. Veera talks about a mediator, but Suthep refuses to negotiate at all. Yingluck offered a referendum on Suthep’s People Assembly proposal and Suthep refused. If we magically delay an election then will have some mystery mediator who can click his fingers and we will have reform which everyone will be happy about? Who this person is and how this reform by Suthep’s unelected People’s Assembly will somehow reform the system to the satisfaction of all Is not explained.We have an election where the people can decide who they trust…..

The Democrats can’t win an election and so the Establishment want to rewrite the rules of the game to give them a fighting chance. This has already happened once after the 2006 coup. They got rid of a fully-elected Senate, they stacked “independent” agencies with those opposed to Thaksin and with the partly-appointed Senate could always ensure that enough establishment sympathisers would be appointed again to exercise enough control of the agencies, changed laws to make it easier to dissolve parties, increased powers of such agencies, changed the electoral system twice,* funnelled billions to get former Thaksin allies to defect and establish smaller parties where those smaller parties outspent pro-Thaksin parties 3 to 1 (yet still lost) etc. Yet, this is still not enough.

*Remember under the 1997 Constitution, we had 400 single member constituency MPS and 100 MPs from the party vote. Thaksin won under that system so in 2007, they changed this to 157 multi-member constituencies (with up to 3 MPs per constituency and 400 constituency MPs in total) and 80 MPs from the party vote (because Thai Rak Thai had done well under the party vote system previously) but a pro-Thaksin party still won in 2007 so the Abhisit-led government, who had done well on the party list vote in 2007, changed the electoral system in 2011 to move to 375 single member constituencies and 125 MPs from the party vote. Yet, the pro-Thaksin party won again in 2011 and the change didn’t help. Hence, we need a third change to  somehow weaken Puea Thai, but BP thinks they realize this is not enough. They are unhappy that the 2007 Constitution didn’t go far enough in weakening Thaksin so want a do-over. And you think Puea Thai will be happy about this reform? Of course, not. As it is they are not happy with the 2007 Constitution and want a fully-elected Senate and to make other changes, but the establishment want to go the over way entirely…