The Japan Times: Short-circuiting Thai democracy
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The Japan Times: Short-circuiting Thai democracy

The Japan Times has an editorial entitled “Short-circuiting Thai democracy”. Key excerpts:

With the removal of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand has honed its unique form of government — juristocracy — in which the judiciary repeatedly overthrows democratically elected governments on transparent pretexts.

Last week’s decision by the Constitutional Court was widely expected but that did not make it any easier to swallow. Antidemocratic elements — and there is no other word for them — in Thai society refuse to tolerate a government that they do not control, the sentiments of the majority of the Thai people be damned.

This is the third time that judges have removed a prime minister they did not like and this indifference to the popular will is hardening sentiment in Thailand and pushing the country closer to civil war.

The problem is that Thaksin is popular: Despite his removal from office in a military coup and a constitution written by a successor government that institutionalizes barriers to his return, his party keeps winning elections. That has not stopped the opposition from doing everything they can to keep his allies from running the government.

The result is coup after coup, followed by one loss after another at the ballot box, until pressure builds and another extraparliamentary change is engineered.

Thailand’s opposition may be successful in its rear-guard battles against a democratically elected government, but these “victories” are Pyrrhic. Not only does the resulting instability and chaos do as much damage as Thaksin did to entrenched business and economic interests, but it erodes the foundation of the state’s very legitimacy.

BP: The editorial does not pull any punches. While Thaksin’s popularity has gone up and down over the years, the essential problem is that he and the party which he is de facto leader of are still popular enough that the Democrats cannot win. This has been the case for more than 10 years and shows no sign of going away to a significant level that the results will change.