WSJ: Thai Democrats should not be rewarded for boycotting electionBy Bangkok Pundit Feb 04, 2014 10:00PM UTC
WSJ in an editorial:
If the main opposition party boycotts an election, should this invalidate the result?
The belief of the Democrat Party that their path to power lies through street demagoguery and lawyers rather than the ballot box is at the root of Thailand’s problems. Only when both sides agree to let democratic institutions resolve their disputes will society return to normality. A judicial coup would reward the Democrats for their misbehavior.
There are circumstances under which a boycott of an election may be legitimate, for instance when voting is not free and fair. But that is not the case in Thailand, nor has the opposition substantiated such allegations. When a party in a modern democracy behaves like a spoiled child and boycotts an election, its punishment should be sitting on the sidelines until it decides to grow up.
The way things normally work in a second-rate democracy is that, come election time, the incumbent administration prevents a free and fair election. In Thailand, which is fast sinking from second- to third-rate status, it is the opposition that has done its utmost to scupper the democratic process.
Sadly, the elections held last weekend will do little, if anything, to end the debilitating impasse into which Thai politics has fallen. Not only did the opposition, led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, boycott the polls – which was just about its right. It also prevented many other people from voting – which was not. As a result, the poll was disrupted in 11 per cent of electoral districts. Voters were prevented from exercising their right with the threat of violence. Such are the thuggish tactics normally employed by dictatorships, not by self-professed representatives of the people.
Still, if we are apportioning blame, the opposition is much more at fault.. ..
The opposition should also drop its unworkable demands for an unelected council to run the country. If it persists in blocking the democratic process, all that remains is a military coup or a legal putsch. That, one suspects, is precisely what it is hoping for. If that happened, government loyalists, who have mostly shown restraint during the latest crisis, would likely take to the streets themselves. That way lies ruin.
NYT in an editorial:
Instead of making a case to voters, the opposition leaders want to oust Ms. Shinawatra and replace Parliament with an unelected people’s council to carry out unspecified political reforms. They also want to bar Ms. Shinawatra and her popular brother Thaksin, a former prime minister who lives in exile, permanently from the country’s political system.
If the elections are put off indefinitely and Parliament replaced with an unelected council, the country’s deep divisions — now breaking along urban-rural and north-south fault lines — would be made worse and the continuing political strife would further undermine Thailand’s already shaky economy. The military and King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is 86, two powerful institutions that have previously stepped in to resolve political disputes, have refused to support either side. That could change if the current impasse drags on. If the opposition cares about reducing corruption and strengthening the democracy, it should end the protests and propose clear and detailed reforms that voters can accept or reject.
Then, to round it all off, Doug Bandow of Cato with op-ed for Forbes. Key excerpt:
Certainly not the one proposed by Suthep. His agenda is power. He called for a “people’s revolution” with an unelected “people’s council,” which he would get to fill, to “reform” election rules, which would guarantee his victory, before the next poll is held. Some of his supporters openly call for an absolute monarchy or other form of authoritarian state.
Like Thaksin, Suthep and his cronies are dedicated to their own interests. They just prefer the more discreet power-mongering and profiteering made possible when close-knit elites quietly dominate irrespective of election results.
Yet Suthep and his establishment friends insist on their right, and their right alone, to rule. His crowds evoke memories of fascist bullies in other nations cowing the majority and forcing their way into power. He claims to represent the nation but has only contempt for those who do not recognize his pretensions. On election day the Black Shirts even attacked Thais seeking to vote, throwing punches as well as water bottles and other objects
Thaksin may be a blight upon Thai politics, but Suthep and his allies are a cancer. Unfortunately, in Thailand democracy does not guarantee good government. However, authoritarian, undemocratic rule would be far worse.
BP: Abhisit, perhaps sensing that the Democrats are losing their argument with the international community because of their association with the PDRC, has been doing some international media interviews with Channel News Asia and BBC. The problem though is not how the Democrats and the PDRC are saying things, but what they are saying. Abhisit has become almost a de facto spokesperson and defender of the PDRC – he was insisting to Jonathan Head of the BBC that the protesters “have been unarmed” despite the numerous photos and video showing the opposite – so am not sure where the Democrats can go from here. Suthep tonight has been calling for electoral reform and no doubt the Democrats will support this given their inability to win elections over the last 20 years. Suthep and Abhisit may be able to get Yingluck and perhaps the government removed, but they would be naive to think it will be over.
Just look at Egypt where a coup resulted in the Muslim Brotherhood coming out to protest and a brutal crackdown which has killed over 1,000 and shows no sign of being resolved. The Democrats need to win by ballots and not bullets, but they do not seem to have learned this lesson yet.