Will the Constitutional Court dissolve the Pua Thai Party and cause a collapse in the elected government? This is a question many people’s minds. The excuse for such a move by the court would be the so-called “attempt to overthrow the monarchy” by the government in trying to amend the constitution. Any suggestion that the Yingluk government would want to overthrow the monarchy is ridiculous, but it is the usual excuse for a “coup”. Despite the fact that an elected parliament has the legitimacy to pass new laws and amend the constitution and despite the fact that the present constitution was drawn up by a military junta, there might be a chance that a judicial coup might take place. But what are the odds?
Factors against a judicial coup
Pua Thai and Taksin have made an agreement with the military and agreed not to prosecute any army generals for killing pro-democracy demonstrators. Pua Thai and Taksin have stated over and over again that they will not amend the lèse majesté law. They will not release lèse majesté prisoners and they will not touch the special privileges of the military. It goes without saying that they will continue to support the monarchy.
Pua Thai is a much better government in serving the interests of the military and the elites because of its relationship with the Red Shirts and the UDD leadership of the Red Shirts. The government together with the UDD can control and demobilise the Red Shirt mass movement. Any other government could face large demonstrations.
If Pua Thai is dissolved and the government falls, Thai politics will be once again plunged into chaos, the clock will be turned back to 2010. This would be against the long term interests of the entire ruling class, including the military.
After so many election victories by Thai Rak Thai, Palang Prachachon and Pua Thai (all the same party), another coup against the elected government with such a clear mandate from the population would have no legitimacy, both among the majority of people in Thailand and internationally.
The shenanigans by the Constitutional Court might just be a bargaining tactic to keep Taksin and Pua Thai on their toes and to reaffirm that they will not have everything their own way… it might not lead to the fall of the Yingluk government.
But political events do not always follow logic and are prone to disputes and accidents……
Factors for a judicial coup
The conservatives in the ruling class are not one single body and are prone to disputes and rivalries. The Constitutional Court might not listen to the military and the military itself is prone to divisions over various interests. One section of the elites might decide to “have a go” for their own narrow sectional interests without taking a long term view and without caring about legitimacy in the eyes of the world or in the eyes of most Thais.
The conservatives who might want to “have a go” might be so confident of victory or might be too stupid to see the long term consequences of a return to chaos where they might ultimately lose everything if the agreement between Taksin and the military unravels and mass protests are resumed.
The conservatives who want to “have a go” might believe that Pua Thai could be dissolved and reformed under a new name and the actions of the Constitutional Court might be just a warning shot in the horse-trading with Taksin and Pua Thai. The aim might not be a thorough coup. But this is a strategy which is fraught with dangers and the possibilities of accidents.
What is to be done?
It would be foolish to make clear predictions at this stage. We shall have to wait and see and keep analysing…..
We need to remember that both Pua Thai and the conservative royalists might be happy with increased political tensions in order to scare Red Shirts into accepting a bad reconciliation deal and the agreement between Taksin and the military. Never the less progressive Red Shirts will have to defend the Pua Thai government against any judicial coup. That does not mean that we stop criticising the government or abandon attempts to organise independently of Pua Thai and the UDD.
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