Anti-government protesters agreed to end their crippling week-long occupation of Thailand’s two airports, after the country’s Constitutional Court forced Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and several cabinet ministers from office for vote-buying by their now-dissolved party. The airport seizure, by the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), stranded 230,000 tourists. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
The PAD has once again demonstrated its “almost mythical capacity” to enforce its will with “astounding” impunity, said Nicholas Farrelly and Andrew Walker in Australia’s Eureka Street. But while the PAD has won this round in its anti-democratic “final battle” against loyalists of exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and his successor Somchai, its “celebrations may be short-lived.”
The “class warfare” between the urban elite PAD backers and the rural Thaksin partisans will probably only escalate, said Lawrence Osborne in Forbes online. The Thaksin backers outnumber the PAD, so “in place of silly old ballots,” the “Westernized” professional class is pushing to replace “one man one vote” democracy with a system in which they “would simply get to elect their own.”
The PAD “has tainted the country’s international credibility,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun in the Bangkok Post, but Thaksin has also done his part by “further inflaming the political situation in Thailand on the global stage.” Meanwhile, as the two sides bicker, the nation suffers from the standoff—the loss of tourism revenue alone is enormous.
“So, what next for Thailand?” said Tom Fawthrop in Britain’s The Guardian. “The only way to avert more bloodshed” is for the PAD to give up its “arrogant elitism” and its “attempt to thrust Thai democracy into reverse gear.” The PAD might actually win over Thaksin voters if it pursues “a much-needed dialogue and reconciliation with the countryside.”
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