04 May 2014

"Yingluck should make the sacrifice
of withdrawing from power..."

Last week, the Election Commission announced that a new election will take place on 20th July. An election was held on 2nd February, though it was subsequently nullified by the Constitutional Court. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament last December as a concession to the PDRC protesters who have blocked intersections in Bangkok and disrupted the election. Suthep has also threatened to disrupt the next election, which would probably result in another annulment by the Court.

For the past week, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has pledged to reveal his plan to end the country's political limbo. Yesterday, he finally unveiled his proposals, calling for Yingluck to resign: "Yingluck should make the sacrifice of withdrawing from power". Curiously, he specified that she should quit before the Constitutional Court announces its verdict in the Thawil Pliensri case. A guilty verdict is widely expected, though it's unclear why Abhisit wants to pre-empt it.

Abhisit also proposed that the Senate should appoint an interim government, which would draft a series of political reforms. Those reforms would then be put to a referendum, and a general election would be held so that the government could implement the reforms. This plan is hardly surprising, as Democrat lawyer Wirat Kalayasiri made the same suggestion in the Bangkok Post last month: "the Senate Speaker would have to nominate the next prime minister... whose interim government should make plans for national reform ahead of the next general election."

Abhisit's proposals are similar to those of the PDRC: Suthep Thaugsuban has also called for an appointed group to draft plans for political reform before an election. However, Suthep has rejected Abhisit's plan, as it gives the Senate the authority to appoint the interim government; Suthep's stated aim is that he will seize sovereign power and select a prime minister by himself. Pheu Thai also rejected the proposal, as an appointed government would be unconstitutional.

Abhisit has stated that he will resign from politics if his proposals are accepted by both sides of the political dispute. (This is a safe pledge for Abhisit to make, as his proposals have not been accepted by either side.) The Democrats have announced that they will boycott the forthcoming election if Abhisit's plan is rejected, which seems highly likely. (They also boycotted elections in 2006 and earlier this year.) Instead of their petulant boycotts, they should refresh their leadership, introduce policies that appeal beyond their core voters, and disassociate themselves from the undemocratic PDRC.