Politics in Thailand makes strange bedfellows. We wish Abhisit Vejjajiva well, should he become the latest - howmanieth? - prime minister of Thailand. We all know that Thai heads of governments of the Democrat Party don’t really have a record of fulfilling their terms in office. Abhisit as the exception that proves the rule?
Some years ago I would have cheered for Abhisit to becoming prime minister. This time around, his name is ingloriously linked to the anarchy of the PAD mob. The only true democratic move Abhisit has made over the past few months was when he agreed on a joint session of parliament to prepare for the upcoming, meanwhile postponed Asean summit.
Abhisit in bed with Newin Chidchob is about as opportunistic as one can get. Not only would Newin grotesquely side with Chamlong, Sondhi & Co. (what a thought …), he will set tough demands by offering Abhisit his Northeast. Finally the amnesty? Taking over at the height of such a political, economic and financial crisis is no mean feat. The Democrats become proactive at the wrong time.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, has the premiership within his grasp. Or could it be a comeback for Chuan Leekpai, the chief adviser of this grand old party? This follows a dramatic makeover of the coalition government. Over the weekend, Suthep Thaugsuban, the secretary-general of the Democrat Party, succeeded in bringing together the coalition partners who were part of the now-defunct People Power Party-led government. With the disbanding of the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipatai parties, the balance of power within Parliament has shifted sharply.
Now the alliance is changing. With support from the defunct Chart Thai (15 MPs), defunct Matchima Thipatai (10 MPs), Puea Pandin (22 MPs) and the Newin Chidchob faction (37 MPs), the Democrats (166 MPs) are scrambling to form a new coalition government, which will complete the remaining three-year term. They will have the support of altogether 250 MPs, compared with 228 for the Pheu Thai Party, the reincarnation of the People Power, Pracharaj and other parties.
The private sector, represented by the Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Chamber of Commerce and Thai Bankers' Association, has called for the new coalition government to be led by the Democrat as the core party. The country can't afford another round of crisis. The old coalition make-up is troublesome because it is still linked to Thaksin, whose ghost has refused to be laid to rest.
With the assistance of a military coup, two party dissolutions, a new constitution, an activist judiciary, royal backing, an ultra-nationalist crisis, six months of escalating street provocation, military insubordination, and an economically disastrous airport shutdown, the Democrat Party now seems to be within striking distance of forming Thailand’s next government.
Good luck to them.
Their path to government has been anything but honourable, but the ultimate decision will be made by parliament. If the Democrat Party can muster the numbers in parliament, they have a right to form government. Those who have defected from the government side will have to face their respective electorates eventually and the voters will be able to make a judgement about their motives and their actions (and any incentives they may have received).