Bloomberg today reports on the political situation here in Thailand:
Thailand’s ruling party warned democracy is under threat as its highest court moves to stop lawmakers from changing the constitution in a country that has suffered 18 coup attempts in the past eight decades.
The Constitutional Court has no right to prevent Parliament from voting on an amendment that would create a new body to rewrite the charter, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung told reporters yesterday. A judicial challenge to the legislators’ efforts could lead to the disbanding of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party, the third time courts have disqualified elected allies of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra since he was ousted by the military six years ago.
“Did they fall asleep and didn’t know we got our power from the election?” Chalerm said, referring to judges on the nine-member Constitutional Court. “Don’t go too far. This is too much and no one can accept this.”
The dispute risks reigniting street protests pitting Thaksin supporters who have won five straight elections against opponents who accuse him of undermining the monarchy and subverting the legal system to allow his return from exile. Thai stocks dropped to a four-month low as consumer confidence fell for the first time in half a year in May because of escalating political strains and higher costs for food and oil.
Another ‘‘judicial coup” may take place before street protests spin out of control, a possible pretext for another military intervention, according to Paul Chambers, director of research at the Southeast Asian Institute of Global Studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand.
“If things continue as they are right now, then Yingluck’s days are numbered,” he said. “If Pheu Thai steps back and ends the attempts to change the constitution, then Yingluck can stay in office perhaps until her term is over.”
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial that ran in today’s paper, assesses things in a fairly hopeful manner.
The headline and sub-hed are: “Thailand’s Elites Reconcile: The problem of Thaksin’s return may finally be resolved.” Worth a read.