the middle class of many developing nations is very nervous about the voting power of ill-educated peasants. You can see this playing out in Thailand, where a government elected with the support of poor, rural voters was regarded by the urban middle class as a giant theft ring.There are also sectional differences at work, and an obscure conflict within the royal family over the succession to the throne (the current king is old and sick).
Last year Thaksin's supporters, the "Red Shirts", stormed Parliament and forced government ministers to flee by helicopter, and security forces at first did little to stop them:
The protesters were later cleared from the city by the army, and more than a hundred were killed. But many people supported the protesters, and the government announced a compromise settlement that led to yesterday's election, conducted on reasonably fair terms. I suspect this means another military coup is unlikely this year; according to the BBC, the army chief of staff has promised to stay neutral.
The brief invasion of Parliament earlier Wednesday (July 1, 2010), the failure of security forces to stop it and the hasty retreat by government officials added to a growing sense in Bangkok that the government was not in control of the situation.
At a rally shortly after the invasion a protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, was defiant. “If you want to kill us, come on in,” he said. “But if you consider us your brothers and sisters, put your weapons down.”
Commentators regard the latest election results as decisive rejection of the anti-Thaksin line taken by the Thai establishment:
“This is a slap in the face to the establishment for what they’ve done since the military coup in 2006,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University. “This is a new Thailand that they must learn to live with.”I have to say that for an outsider it is difficult to figure out the reality behind the charges and counter-charges of Thai politics. I don't doubt that Thaksin is corrupt, since he became a billionaire in highly regulated industries (telecommunications, television, etc.) and must have had government help to get him going. But is he that much more corrupt than the average Thai politician or businessman? His party established universal health care in Thailand, and other measures to help the poor; is this what his opponents mean by buying votes? And was the favoritism his businesses have allegedly received while he was in power much greater than what they got from earlier governments? Amnesty International accused his government of human rights violations stemming from violent suppression of the combination of drug dealers and secessionist ethnic groups that trouble Thailand's borders, but my understanHugo Chavez of Venezuela, but he hasn't tried to rewrite the constitution. It really seems to me that the old Thai elite has tried to crush Thaksin because he threatens their grip on the society; certainly that is what many Thais think:
by far the greatest distrust, and the hardest to overcome, is that felt by a sizeable number of Thais, inside and outside the red shirts, towards the country’s royalist elite and its political, military and business allies. This grouping blithely tossed out Mr Thaksin when he got too big for his boots. That he was thuggish and greedy was a handy excuse. But the 2006 coup failed to bury him politically and only unleashed a wider backlash against an elite that still believes in a divine hierarchy of which they are the agents. Mr Abhisit would object to such a description, but his class betrays little sympathy or interest in the aspirations of rural and working-class voters. Their attitude, says Supavud Saicheua, an economist at Phatra Securities, is: “We are brilliant people. We know what you want."Poor Thais, though, have their own ideas about what they want, and in this election they made them clear.