On the Thai Protests

The main Thai opposition party resigned from parliament today to join street demonstrations against the government.  Here is the key quote:

“We cannot beat them,” said Theptai Seanapong, one of the members of Parliament who resigned Sunday. “It doesn’t matter if we raise our hands and feet in parliamentary votes, we will never win.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/world/asia/members-of-thai-opposition-party-quit-parliament.html

Suffice it to say, this makes clear what has been not always obvious since the 2005 or so.  The Thai opposition lacks the popular support to win elections.  They are a collection of the old elites who deeply resent their loss of power in the face of the gradual enrichment and development of the provinces.  Thaksin employed classical development programs, such as cheap loans and conditional cash transfers to end the poverty traps that ensnared millions throughout rural Thailand.  Under his and his successors’ rule, the economy has grown briskly and development indicators have spiked upwards.  Yet, the urban elites still demand to rule over the peons in the countryside and have opposed successful antipoverty programs.  Their inability to win free and fair elections is telling.  Perhaps moreso is their use of anti-democratic tactics: fomenting a military coup, abuse of the lese-majeste law to silence journalists and politicians who oppose them, (yellow shirstreet protests that shut down key government mlnistries etc.  If the Thaksinites (red shirts)


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