McCargo on the opposition’s sabotaging of the election
Share this on

McCargo on the opposition’s sabotaging of the election

Noted academic Duncan McCargo in Foreign Policy. Key excerpts:

Meanwhile, media outlets sympathetic to the opposition, including the respected Bangkok Post, ran articles suggesting, without any apparent irony, that the relatively low turnout and the high number of “no” votes (in Thai elections, voters can tick a box saying they reject all the candidates on the ballot) proved that the ruling party had performed poorly.

The opposition’s approach was: “Let’s do everything we can to sabotage the election, including using violence, and then blame the ruling party for making a hash of it.”

If you just listen to the vitriolic, nauseating rhetoric at the nightly anti-government rallies at multiple locations around Bangkok, you would think Thaksin and his sister were the country’s biggest political problems. In fact, Thailand faces two huge parallel challenges, neither of which is of Thaksin’s making:

The first challenge is national anxiety about the country’s future. Rama 9, King Bhumibol, the world’s longest serving monarch, is now 86 years old. Who will succeed him, and what will happen as a result, is the focus of endless gossip among Thais. A lot of the protestors’ anti-Thaksin sentiment reflects their view that the influential former premier must not have any hand in managing the delicate succession process.

The second challenge, seen in attempts to disrupt voting in Bangkok and elsewhere, concerns the logic of electoral politics. Now that voters in the north and northeast have been mobilized to vote as a bloc, the Bangkok middle classes and their southern allies face the real prospect that they will never again choose a government to their liking. Thailand has moved into a phase of majoritarianism, in which pro-Thaksin governments will be able to run the country with virtual impunity for the foreseeable future. Affluent Bangkokians have finally grasped the logic of electoral democracy: they are permanently outnumbered by the rural masses.

BP: Indeed. So far, the courts have rejected the Democrat’s petition to void the election and disband Puea Thai (yes, because it is the government’s fault that the PDRC obstruction of the election and obtaining power through an election is somehow illegal is the logic), but we will no doubt see another petition with more efforts to remove the government. Things are gradually moving to a precipice with more violence on the horizon. Suthep continues to up his rhetoric and continues to say no negotiations although there have been negotiations behind the scenes, so there is an element of just playing to the crowd, but this rhetoric of ‘no compromise’ will make it harder for him to sell any compromise. You are looking at some people – most likely on both sides – who are going to be very disappointed and upset no matter the outcome particularly if there is a compromise. The joy and happiness people express when those from the other side are killed is widespread and rampant on social media. It just makes it harder to successfully negotiate for a long-standing compromise….