Thailand and the Fragility of Representative Democracy

(EDIT: I just came across this – the UK foreign office has said “We do not believe that violence has any part to play in achieving political aims” I eagerly await the announcement that the police and army are being disbanded.)

Another post on Thailand. The redshirts, after scoring a coup (figuratively) by forcing the cancellation of the ASEAN summit, have been forced out of the city when the police and army started getting proper rough. In the ensuing riots, more than a hundred people have been injured and two killed. Clashes are not just between state agents and protesters, but also between protesters and local resident – Bangkok being, like most large cities, dominated by the yellowshirts.

In the face of this escalation of violence, the protest organisers have called for people to leave the city, and some have handed themselves in/been taken into custody.

What’s interesting of course is how this didn’t happen when the yellowshirts were doing the exact same thing – mass protests aiming at disrupting high-profile activities (like occupying the airports). Funny that – the army, which mainly supports the conservative yellowshirts, and had previously installed a yellow government by force, was very hands-off with yellowshirt protests. But when their ideological opponents are trying the same thing, it’s “no more Mr. Nice Guy”.

I was thinking about how to summarise the dispute in Thailand for my friends in the UK. In essence, the situation is that every time an election is held, one party (let’s say Labour, or Democrats for the US, Socialist Party for France, etc.) wins. They win because their supporters are more numerous. They win because the poor majority like their policies more.

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