There is a script for Thai coups: a day or two of shock and awe, seizure of television stations, token tanks on the streets — and then swift international reassurance, a plausible interim prime minister, an appointed national assembly, a committee to draft a new constitution and promises to hold elections within a year.
The 2006 coup followed the script almost perfectly, but still ended in farce: The influence of the ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was far from removed; indeed, pro-Thaksin parties won the first post-coup election, and the one after that.
The leaders of the May 22 coup are not sticking to the 1991 or 2006 scripts.… Seguir leyendo »
Thailand is not one democracy, but two. In the 1990s the Thai political scientist Anek Laothamatas argued that the middle classes of Bangkok, educated and sophisticated, opposed corruption and embraced democratic values, while the uneducated masses in the rest of the country were susceptible to manipulation by unscrupulous politicians. This narrative is now being repeated by the middle-class Bangkokians who have recently taken to the streets en masse and occupied government buildings, forcing Yingluck Shinawatra, the democratically elected prime minister, to call for early elections in February.
In fact, the protesters themselves are proving Mr. Anek wrong. Now it’s the urban middle classes who are being manipulated by wayward politicians — like Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who resigned from Parliament last month to lead the demonstrations — and who oppose holding fresh elections.… Seguir leyendo »