Bloomberg : Thai protesters can’t win by dismantling system
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Bloomberg : Thai protesters can’t win by dismantling system

Bloomberg has an editorial on the Thai political crisis entitled “Thai Protesters Can’t Win by Dismantling System”:

Hundreds of thousands of protesters bring the capital to a standstill. To placate them, the prime minister dissolves parliament and calls new elections. One might expect the crowds to declare victory and go home, right?

It’s true that Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party is almost guaranteed to win the new polls, which must be held by Feb. 2. [UPDATE: added this sentence as it makes it clear what “democracy in action” for below paragraph is referring too and not the first paragraph above] ….

This, however, is democracy in action. Hoping instead for an army coup or a royally appointed government of “wise men,” as protest leaders have proposed, is no way to address Thailand’s chronic political dysfunction. To their credit, both the monarchy and the army have publicly refused to intervene in the standoff. Sooner or later Thailand’s Democrats, just like every long-irrelevant minority party, from the U.K.’s Labour before the rise of Tony Blair to U.S. Democrats before Bill Clinton, simply have to find a way to expand their electoral appeal.

To be sure, the Democrats have valid complaints about the current government, which has been obsessed with passing measures — many of them thought to have been instigated by Thaksin from afar — to erode the opposition’s influence and expand Thaksin’s own. An amnesty bill that would have allowed the tycoon to return home safe from corruption charges was needlessly provocative, as was an attempt to make the Thai Senate fully elected. (Judges and senior civil servants now appoint almost half its members.)

BP: Overall, agree with the editorial and it has areas – read the whole thing – for both the Democrats and Puea Thai to focus on, but not sure that would would call an attempt to make the Senate fully elected “needlessly provocative” although the criticism of the Amnesty Bill is accurate.

Thaksin’s pushing of the Amnesty Bill was the biggest clusterfu*k* in recent Thai political history since Thaksin’s Shin Corp sale (although Suthep in making himself to be a “hero” for those in the anti-Thaksin camp is not helping the prospects of the Democrats if they decide to participate in the February 2, 2014 election).

Labor in the UK were out of office from 1979-1997. Yes, it took 18 years for Labor to win back office, but like Labor the Democrats should focus on expanding their electoral appeal which they eventually did/people got sick of the previous government (it then took the Tories 13 years to beat Labor)…

Perhaps, the Democrats should listen to their Deputy Leader Alongkorn who was on Nation Channel’s Kom Chud Leuk program last night who at least breaks from the mould at times. Alongkorn has been saying for a while now that vote-buying is not why the Democrats have lost (so there is no sneering at voters that don’t vote for the Democrats) and has been advocating primaries (although not so easy to do when you don’t have a fixed election cycle) and party reform should focus on policies. Someone like Alongkorn who is talking new ideas would at least attract people to consider the Democrats again. One of their problems is that many people hate them and just don’t won’t them and they really need to shake-up the “electoral marketplace” to get attention as many people just won’t listen to them in order to expand their electoral appeal.

Maintaining the status quo where the Democrats do very well in the South (except the Deep South), Bangkok, Eastern Thailand, and the Lower North, but are unable to make any inroads in other areas of the country means the Democrats are not able to win more than 40% of all seats and the best case for them is a very weak coalition government (where they have to hand over the key ministries to coalition partners in order to persuade the coalition partners to join as opposing to joining Puea Thai – although the coalition partners may need some “persuasion” from the military).**  So far the status quo has caused the Democrats to lose seven elections in a row, namely 1995, 1996, 2001, 2005, 2006 (if you count this one, otherwise six), 2007, and 2011 and there is no sign that this will change any time soon.***

btw, the Washington Post from Dec 4 in an editorial:

SOMETIMES NATIONS seem to get stuck in loops of history, repeating the same crises and learning nothing from them. Such is the unfortunate case of Thailand. For a dozen years, its Bangkok-based political and business establishment has been unable to reconcile itself to the populist movement of Thaksin Shinawatra , which draws its support from the countryside and wins comfortable majorities in national elections. Rather than do the hard work of fashioning a winning alternative, the anti-Thaksin forces, with allies in the military, courts and entourage of Thailand’s king, have employed a coup, court rulings and street insurrections to drive three elected governments from power in the last seven years. Then, lacking support, they inevitably are compelled to hold another election — and the Thaksin party wins again.

This time they say their aim is not just to bring down the government, but to replace it with an unelected “people’s council” — presumably so as to avoid future electoral defeats.

BP: Indeed.

*Definition is “A chaotic situation where everything seems to go wrong. It is often caused by incompetence, communication failure, or a complex environment” and hence why so appropriate…

**In the next couple of weeks, will have more analysis of where the swing seats are…

***Last time, the Democrats won a plurality of seats was 1992.