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Thais protests ongoing

For some time now, Thailand has been seeing a division of the country along political lines. The rich and the entitled feel that the poor are voting adversely, supporting a populist former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They detest his policies, and were sore that he was voted in as the leading vote-getter, and his party having won the most seats in Parliament. After some time of simmering tension, the sale of his telecom company to a Singapore company was enough to set off the tension, and he was deposed in a military coup in 2006. However, even though his party was disbanded, a cobbled together version of his supporters won the maximum seat and came to power again.


Earlier this year, things came to a head when a extremely diverse coalition of academics, activists, businessmen, and many others came together to form a People’s Alliance and started a protest (essentially blockading the headquarters of the Government). Eventually, the Prime Minister was forced to resign on a technicality, and now another Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat (incidentally a brother-in-law of the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin) came to power; and he is facing the same protests:

In a day of street battles that left more than 100 people wounded, anti-government protesters surrounded Parliament on Tuesday, trapping hundreds of lawmakers inside throughout the afternoon. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped over a back fence in the morning after delivering a policy address. But other members were unable to leave for more than five hours, when the police dispersed the massed protesters with volleys of tear gas and cleared the way for them. The assault on Parliament escalated a six-week sit-in on the grounds of the prime ministers office, a kilometer away, that had forced the government to relocate its business to a former international airport.
The People’s Alliance is a patchwork coalition of businessmen, academics and activists who accuse the government of being a proxy for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a coup in 2006 and who fled to exile in London in August. The alliance says it wants to modify the country’s democratic system to weaken the electoral power of the rural poor, who formed the base of support of Thaksin and now of the governing People Power Party.

This is one of the systematics debates about democracy; where a section of the population believes that they know better than the others (who may be less educated, or more radicalized, or more susceptible to populist pressures, or fill in your own reason). In some cases this may be true, but to seek a version of democracy where the votes of people are not equal, is going on a very slippery slope.

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