What is happening in Thailand comes close to open class warfare – it can spill over into full-blown civil war rather than just sporadic gun fights unless the opposition Democrats back down and reengage with the political process. They refused to engage in elections yesterday because, even though they oppose the current government, they know it will win. The argument is that those who voted for the Government are deluded in supporting a corrupt government. The government has the support of the majority of Thai’s and particularly those poor farmers living in the north and north east of the country. The relatively wealthy Bangkokians have never had much regard for the lumpen-proletariat living in the countryside – the so-called “Issaan” but the latter are smart enough to make choices that improve their lot. Members of the Thaksin government are not angels but the obligation of the opposition is to point this out, to argue the case and not just refuse to participate. The elections themselves will not resolve Thailand’s difficulties. Results will not be known for a month because many could not vote yesterday so new polls must be held. The longstanding problems will persist for at least a month unless the Democrats reengage.
A country that has had sound economic development now faces real problems. Multinationals that dragged huge amounts of foreign investment into the country are threatening to leave and tourism is drying up.