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Politics is confusing everyone, not just the Democrats [Editorial]


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Politics is confusing everyone, not just the Democrats

By The Nation




Party’s ambivalence reflective of voters’ dilemma


Thailand’s oldest political party will very likely play kingmaker after the general election, as military-backed Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Pheu Thai Party fight to gain control of Parliament. One side is backed by senators and the other by its traditional dominance in the Northeast, where many lower house seats are on offer. That leaves the Democrat Party as the crucial decisive factor in who will form the post-election government.


Assuming Prayut wants to remain prime minister after the election, the Democrats basically have three choices, none of which is risk-free.


They can back Prayut and send Pheu Thai into the opposition bloc, or join hands temporarily with Pheu Thai in order to shut him out. The third choice is to declare that they support nobody and are willing to stay in opposition. Every choice may lead to harsh criticism of the Democrats by those disappointed with the new government.


But criticism is not the only thing coming the Democrats’ way. Every post-election choice they make will generate tangible consequences on a grand scale. Join hands with Pheu Thai and they risk losing middle-class support which contributed to Suthep Thaugsuban’s success in leading massive protests against a Pheu Thai government in 2013-14. Back Prayut and they will find themselves further alienated from the grass-root groups they are supposed to reach out to.


Opting for the third choice will not spare the Democrats. They will lose middle-class support if that hands power to Pheu Thai, or anger rural bases if their decision to settle for opposition allows Prayut to retain power. 


Whatever their final decision, the Democrats can claim that they made it with a clear conscience, but not everyone will listen. Consider the bigger picture and you see the whole country is in the same situation. The political divide is so deep-rooted that everyone, not just the Democrats, may be confused about right and wrong.


Medium-size parties that are staying on the fence currently face the same dilemma, more or less. Voters likewise. If arguments for and against Prayut as well as Thaksin Shinawatra are complicated morally, they are even more so politically. Thais will vote next year not for the usual political issues such as taxes or budget distribution, but for “ideologies” that they don’t even know are really held by the parties they vote for.


Business people will be ambivalent too. Is support for Pheu Thai tacit approval of sinister things politicians do when they get parliamentary “legitimacy”, thus making political transparency as elusive as ever? Is support for Prayut tantamount to refusing to give democracy a chance to correct itself and acceptance of non-democratic means that prove to be no better than elected politicians in many aspects?


It is obvious that what happens after the general election will have great consequences for Thais in their political, economic and social lives. Those consequences, however, may be deceptive, as a large part of Thailand’s political crisis is ideological, meaning it has little to do with real issues like health, poor education, combating the drug scourge or competitiveness of Thai labour. Simply put, Thais are going to the polls next year to try to solve problems politicians create, not to elect politicians who can solve national problems.


That’s the irony of Thai politics, and that’s why everyone, just like the Democrats, is feeling confused, not quite knowing what to do. 


Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30356443

-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-10-15
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6 hours ago, webfact said:

Thailand’s oldest political party

Is not the Democrat party.

Thailand's oldest political party might be called the "royalist" coalescing in 1933 and remain the predominate political force in Thailand ever since except for the minor interludes of the Thaksin-Yingluck political parties.


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