Monday, May 15, 2023

Thailand votes for change

Thais went to the polls on Sunday, in the second election under the military's new 2017 constitution, and voted overwhelmingly for change. The default opposition Pheu Thai Party, who the establishment has been getting the military to overthrow for the last two decades, and which was denied power last election by the military-stacked senate despite winning a majority of the vote, ended up coming second. They lost out to "Move Forward", a popular movement which wants to repeal Thailand's undemocratic lese majeste law, downsize the military, crush the monopolies of the rich and limit the monarchy. Together these parties won almost two-thirds of the vote. Meanwhile, the party of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha seems to have got 3%. But thanks to the military-drafted constitution, under which the military-appointed Senate gets a vote in selecting the prime minister, he may still end up in power, despite this overwhelming rejection. And even if that doesn't happen, there's always the threat of another coup...

This situation - of elected governments being overthrown and democracy limited - looks like it will continue as long as Thailand has an establishment which refuses to accept democracy and an oversized military willing to act as their tool. The only way this cycle will be broken is if the military is downsized so that it can no longer be a danger to its own people. But that's obviously easier said than done.