Sunday, June 29, 2008

Italian view of Thai political crisis

Francesco Sisci ponders the political situation in Thailand in La Stampa:
. . . the police seem powerless, the military refuses to intervene, and the demonstrations grow bolder by the day. The protesters insist on the same old thing: The prime minister must quit. Why should he quit? Because a mob said so. Then who should appoint the new government? Who knows. Or does somebody?

But this is not democracy. This is, once again, a coup d’etat. It does not matter whether the military rolls out tanks to banish the prime minister; it is bad enough that they tolerate a situation where a democratically elected government is held hostage to a rabble shouting empty slogans.

Sisci writes that the fall of Thailand's democracy might bode ill for the entire region. He sees European parallels:

Fascism started in Italy, then a minor European power, in 1922. A group of people took the law into their own hands, donned black shirts, and marched on Rome intimidating the Italian king, the public, and even the army into surrendering power.

The situation regarding Thai democracy may, in fact, not be so dire with respect to the recent protests, according to a report by S. Crispin in the Asia Times (hat-tip Bangkok Pundit). Crispin observes a lack of middle class support for the protesters, the fact that the participants seem to be quite old, and an apparent lack of palace support for the movement.

However, I think that if the economic situation in Thailand should deteriorate significantly, the protests will likely gain traction.
Note: Bangkok Pundit and Siam Sentinel also comment on this article.

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