Thai politics Thailand

Thailand update: Suthep calls for more rallies; still no word on Democrats’ election participation

A quick update:

Reuters reports today that faced with dwindling numbers or demonstrators, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has called for marches on Thursday (tomorrow) and Friday and a gathering on Sunday:

Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand said they will step up their protests in an attempt to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office and push through electoral reforms before a general election is held.

The number of protesters camped on the street in the capital has dwindled to about 2,000 over the past week but their leader, former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban, called for marches in central Bangkok on Thursday and Friday, followed by a big rally on Sunday.

It will be interesting to watch the turnout.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have yet to decide whether or not they’ll take part in February’s elections. Bloomberg says:

Thailand’s main opposition party, which re-elected former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as leader yesterday, will meet Dec. 21 to decide whether to boycott a snap election forced by protests that gripped the capital.

The Democrat Party faces a tough call on whether to run in the Feb. 2 polls as its stands to be hurt “both ways” by its decision, Abhisit told reporters in Bangkok yesterday after the group’s meeting, where members voted overwhelmingly to re-elect him. New and past board members of the party and former lawmakers will be invited to the take part in the decision-making gathering, he said.

Other links:

A recent BBC video report from Northeastern Thailand shows — in case it were ever in doubt — the extent of political polarization here. (Click through to view it.)

And the WSJ‘s Southeast Asia Real time has a story on Thais who are trying to remain neutral amid the political crisis:

Amid political protests that have divided Thailand into two opposing camps – those in support of the government and those against it – a third voice is being silenced for trying to remain neutral.

These “Silent” or “Indifferent Thais,” as they’ve been dubbed by both sides, have chosen to stay out of a battle that has seen protesters opposed to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra take to the streets in ever larger numbers over the past few weeks.

As the situations escalates, Thais who have tried their hardest not to get involved say the divisions in the country are making their lives harder.

“Talking politics in daily life is difficult these days as it could easily lead to fierce arguments,” said 41-year-old Dome Promayorn, a sales manager for a consumer good’s company in Bangkok.

He has chosen not to join the rallies because he says the protest leaders lack “vision,” but his wife has regularly been attending the protests without him.

Worth a read.

And finally, Here’s a cartoon from a recent edition of the International New York Times that produced some interesting replies when I shared it on Twitter Monday.

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