Judicial coup

It is hard to dispel the feeling that in ordering prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down from office, Thailand’s Constitutional Court has staged a coup of sorts.

 Not only is its decision convicting Yingluck on charges of abuse of power excessive – the conviction relates to her appointing a new national security chief in 2011 removing one appointed by the previous government - but also, in forcing her to step down, the court has facilitated the Opposition campaign to oust her.  Several of her cabinet colleagues have been ordered to resign too. Although Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party will continue to hold the reins in Thailand, the court ruling is a victory for the opposition Democrat Party. Removing the Shinawatras from power and politics is a key component of its strategy to usurp power. Several institutions have facilitated this over the years. In 2006, the military staged a coup ousting prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother. He went into self-imposed exile abroad subsequently. Early this year, the courts ruled invalid a general election that Pheu Thai party won.  The National Anti-Corruption Commission has initiated corruption charges against 223 Pheu Thai members of parliament. Should its charges stick, the Pheu Thai government will fall.

The Shinawatras have contributed to several of Thailand’s problems. Their corruption-ridden governance is well known. However, they and the Pheu Thai party enjoy popular support especially in rural Thailand and have come to power through elections. This is something the royalist Democrat Party is unable to do since its support is restricted to Bangkok’s elite and middle class. While it has been able to mobilize crowds to paralyse government functioning, it hasn’t won elections. It has opted therefore to exploit support it has in the judiciary, military and other institutions to force its way to power. 

The Democrat Party’s game plan is becoming obvious. It doesn’t want Pheu Thai in power nor does it want an election. It wants a ‘People’s Council’ in place, one that consists of ‘good people’ appointed by elite institutions where it enjoys support. Having tasted blood with Yingluck’s ouster, it will bay for more. It will step up violence in the coming weeks, aimed at paralysing the Pheu Thai government to gather support for itself. With Pheu Thai supporters unlikely to give in easily, clashes on Bangkok’s streets will be bloody. 

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry