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What now for Thailand (after the 12 March ruling)


The decision of the Constitutional Court in Thailand on 12 March 2014 will have far reaching effects on the political upheaval currently being experienced in the country and its future solution.

As soon as Prime Minister Yingluck Shiniwatra called an election for 2 February 2014 –  in order to give the electorate a chance to confirm her mandate to continue as their prime minister following the anti-government protests – she became a “caretaker” prime minister with significantly reduced powers. She would have been aware of that.

Budgets can’t be allocated under a caretaker administration. Megaprojects and major infrastructure projects are put on ice. The Constitutional Court confirmed on 12 March 2014 that the 2 trillion baht rail improvement project, which had been agreed and would have enhanced communications between Thailand and its neighbours, will not now take place. Major institutions have said that will not have an adverse long-term effect on the economy. Investors may think differently unless they can see a solution to the present impasse in who runs the country: electors through the ballot box or “good men” selected by appointment.

Military re-shuffles, in which (since Thaksin became prime minister) national governments had a say, will now be carried out without any government input. That is a direct result of caretaker governments being excluded from the consultation and decision making process of changes in the military top brass.

Yingluck may have thought that calling an election and winning it would have stopped the government protesters, and the political opposition which was effectively supporting them, in their tracks. She would have known her government would have reduced powers in a caretaker role. She took  a gamble and proceeded. That gamble appeared to be working. She was keeping a low profile, avoiding direct conflict with the protest movement, and not “ruffling the feathers” of the military which may have given an excuse for a coup.

There can of course be coups by another name: Samak was ousted as PM for hosting a cooking show, a technical infringement conflicting with his duties as prime minister. We are now seeing pressure being applied through the courts, through this latest confirmation, which will further make continuing in government difficult for Yingluck.

Given her popular support, not only in the North and North-east, she would be betraying a large number of electors if she resigned now. I believe she has no choice but to stick this out and continue as much behind-the scenes negotiation and debate with the main networks as she can. 

I still believe a military coup is unlikely, I still consider a civil war is not imminent. I still think talk of partition within the country was more a propaganda ploy than a serious possibility. Whatever the political differences between the parties, Thais are too enamored by the concept of living in a unified kingdom under a unanimously loved king than to want a split. Indeed one wonders where those original ideas came from – maybe not from the source claimed.

The 12 March court decisions are, however, a significant hurdle.






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  1. Matt Owens Rees permalink

    Reblogged this on Matt.Owens.Rees; Thailand Writer.


  2. Have any arguments about me publishing this on my twitter?


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