Thaksin Shinawatra was a brutal man whose own commitment to democracy was less than stellar (to say the least), but that doesn’t really explain what happened in Thailand. Unfortunately, reporters haven’t bothered to interview anyone other than members of the Bangkok middle classes who wanted Thaksin out. We are regularly assured that democracy will be restored, but nobody asks why a government elected by a popular vote in a free and fair election needed to be removed by force shortly before the next election?
Fortunately Kotaji has done some investigation and rounded up some useful articles for us. The three most salient points seem to be as follows:
First, Thaksin’s populist economic policies angered neoliberals. Second, his recent move towards negotiation with the Muslims in the South (possibly resulting in greater regional autonomy) angered the king. And third, attempts to consolidate power before the next election by sidelining some of the king’s men clearly provoked a reaction.
Even where I don’t personally like a ruler, I find attempts to subvert democratic processes — processes which I think are far more fragile than most people think — deeply troubling. Nearly eight hundred years after the signing of the Magna Carta, people still seem enthralled by monarchy…