Andrew Spooner from http://www.asiancorrespondent.com has a very insightful article on the upcoming Thai General Election (it’s on July 3, 2011), and I thought it worthwhile to add my own comments as an outsider who happens to be in Thailand right now . The points Mr. Spooner brings up are very well-thought through and are worth reading for anyone who has interests in Thailand given the volatility of Thai politics.
As we speak, the Thai Election Commission is reviewing the names for the large list of Thai political parties that are running for this general election. As luck would have it, the election date was set after the King dissolved the Thai Parliament just after I arrived in the country (I believe it occurred on May 9th). The Thai Parliament, as it happens, has two categories of seats. There are 125 seats, which are supposed to be for party leaders and would-be cabinet members of the next Thai government, that are awarded on a proportional basis according to the nationwide vote. The remaining 375 seats are single-member seats for what an American like myself would consider one of the “congressional districts” of the provinces of Thailand (of which there are about 77, give or take a few–I’m in Chaing Mai Province, as it happens). Theoretically, today the lists should be finished vetted to make sure that there are no unsuitable candidates on them, at which point the parties will be cleared to campaign in earnest for the next month.
Spooner makes some very astute but somewhat chilling observations about Thai politics. For one, in every free and fair political election since 2000, the Thaksin political machine has won a victory, either a plurality (in 2007, even after its leaders had been banished and removed, until the party was banned just months after an illegal military coup), or an outright victory (2000, 2005). Now, outside of the institute where I am an instructor, as well as the farm and the home of the person in charge of the whole operation, there are yellow flags that fly in support of the King, and the Legacy Institute as a whole is very supportive of the king, but in the North (where Chaing Mai is located) and Northeast there are a lot of red-flags that have been flown in the past to support Thaksin, who runs on a populist ticket with a cult of personality, and seems to particularly incense the sexpat population, of which I am *not* one. The current prime minister is neither a yellow nor a red, as far as Thai politics go.
Suffice it to say that I am not an insider on Thai politics (and nor do I want to be), but the Pheau Thai party would appear to be, at least from what I have been able to read so far, to be the successor to the numerous other Thaksin parties that have been dissolved over the past few years. Spooner speculates that there has been a deal made between the various political parties that whomever wins the Thai General Election will be given a free hand to restore some semblance of democracy and legitimate authority to Thailand. Who knows for sure, though? Certainly such matters are far above my pay grade.
Speaking as far as my own interests go (interests which do not include getting involved in the politics of other nations), they are as follows: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).” Anything beyond that is beyond my control or influence.