The Thai political battle goes into the next round as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has dissolved parliament and called for new elections. Regardless, the ongoing street protests to drive her and brother Thaksin out of politics continue. With a tearful Yingluck insisting earlier today that she will not resign before the Feb. 2 polls, the two sides remain at an impasse. So, how can we make sense of what will happen next?
This is now the fifth time protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban has announced that a “People’s Victory Day” will take place and that has yet to happen. Escalating anti-government protests over the past week triggered the dissolution of the House and the scheduling of elections for February 2, 2014. However, these two steps have been repeatedly rejected before and Suthep’s group remain uncompromisingly stubborn.
Suthep’s speech on Monday revealed little about his plans how to “reform democracy” and “return power to the people” with his essentially anti-democratic, appointed “people’s council”. Instead – especially in his post-announcement speech that took longer than the actual announcement itself – he went on the usual shrieking diatribe against Yingluck and Thaksin and also tabled the idea of asking government officials about their loyalty, leaving open what would happen to those that would not side with them. While this movement claims to be peaceful and unarmed in its actions, their words carry a lot of hate.
Now it comes down to the opposition Democrat Party, whose MPs all resigned on Sunday. Should they boycott the elections planned on February 2 next year, they could provoke the same political gridlock like they did in 2006 that eventually caused the military to stage a coup against Thaksin. Since the party seemingly has no apparent rifts with the protesters anymore and willingly joined them, it looks like the Democrat Party is “not so keen on the whole democracy thing” anymore and has given up on elections and the 11 million Thais that voted for them in the last elections.
Thailand’s current power struggle is worthy of the label “democrazy” – ironically the same word that the current protesters have used against pro-Thaksin voters in the past, reflecting yet again their electoral powerlessness.
Later on Monday night, Suthep set an ultimatum for the now caretaker government of still-PM Yingluck to resign by 10pm on Tuesday (which she rejected in a tearful presser on Tuesday) and also told protesters to stay a couple of more days to see what happens. Again, he delays “victory day” and leaves us all questioning what will happen next. But one thing is for sure: he will try to seek more chaos in order to provoke a complete derailment of the current political system.
Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and freelance foreign correspondent. He writes about Thai politics and current affairs since 2010 and reports for international news media like Channel NewsAsia. Read his full bio on about.me/saksith.