Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Election in Thailand: General Prem has spoken

In 9 hours, Thais will have their first opportunity to vote in a general election since elected PM Thaksin was deposed by coup d'etat in September 2006. The PPP, a party supported by the deposed Prime Minister, is expected to pick up a majority of seats in the new parliament.
Camera in hand, I was on the streets of Bangkok as the tanks rolled in 2006, and I have blogged some emergent ideas and trends that will have a bearing on the results of this election:
  • It is widely acknowledged that the 2006 military coup was actually a royalist coup ( see here and here).
  • The new Constitution, passed by a referendum in August, made it harder for any single part to obtain a majority.
  • New laws increase the powers of the courts.
This election takes place at a time when Thai security forces across the country have been placed on high alert. I have speculated about the meaning of this.

Here is the big question facing Thailand today: Will the results of this election be allowed to stand, especially if the PPP Party, acknowledged to be partial to the deposed PM, wins a majority?

General Prem speaks
It is widely believed that General Prem, president of the Privy Council, was behind the first coup (see these jots). Yesterday, General Prem was asked whether he thought the results of the election should be respected. His ominous reply was published on Dec. 21 in the Matichon (via New Mandala):

Question: After the election, should everyone
accept the result?
General Prem: Of course. There are rules. These rules have to be accepted.
Question: Even were PPP to win the election and its leader Samak Sundaravej form the government, must the rules be accepted?
General Prem: (after pausing to think) I . . . I would not go that far, would not go that far. So what's this election really about? That's the subject of my next post.

Photo: By Jotman. Depicts the 2006 coup as it unfolded on the streets of Bangkok. This was among the first photos taken of the coup. More here.

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