Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva will not be able to achieve his ambition to reconcile the political rift and find a solution, as his Democrat Party, and he himself, are part of the problem, not the solution.
The on-going political crisis in this country would never have occurred if the Democrat Party and its ally, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), had agreed to join the February 2 snap election.
Indeed the Democrats, as Abhisit said many times but never believed, had a chance to win the February 2 election because the Yingluck Shinawatra administration had so many problems. Even her core allies, the red-shirt group, had difficulties with the government over the amnesty bill.
The Democrats received a lot of support from the elite and the urban middle class as well as the mass media for their campaign against the government’s rice-pledging scheme and many other populist policies.
It seems ridiculous enough that even those who benefited from the government’s first-car policy, which reduced excise tax for first-car buyers, still support the opposition Democrats.
However Abhisit and his crew rejected such strong support and a golden opportunity, despite resistance from senior figures in the party. Abhisit tagged along with his former political twin Suthep Thaugsuban to go for a street battle, rather than an election.
With the campaign to disrupt the February 2 election and their call for a non-elected interim government, Abhisit, the Democrats and Suthep have become an anti-democracy movement. Unbelievable but true, the oldest political party in Thailand, named the Democrats, campaigned for something undemocratic. They acted as if they had already lost faith in the electoral system and democracy.
They strongly criticised politicians for doing all the bad things in the Kingdom, as if they themselves were not politicians.
Sensible observers and analysts never believed that Suthep and Abhisit really understood what they called ‘reform’. A half-year since they began street protests calling for reforms, none of them, even the intellectuals who took the stage at the rally against Yingluck’s government, have yet determined what they want to reform. If reform was so necessary for Thailand, as they are currently saying, why didn’t Abhisit and Suthep do anything while they were in power? Why do they call for reform when they have no power to achieve it? It’s always true in Thai politics that politicians call for a change to the rules of the game whenever they are on the losing side. Reform for Abhisit and Suthep is a shortcut to power.
Abhisit is now calling all stakeholders to sit together with him to break away from the crisis and reform the country. He said he is not a mediator. In fact he did not need to say so, as he cannot be an honest mediator.
As if he had just arrived from Mars, Abhisit launched a campaign for reform and an election at the same time. Reform, if really necessary, badly required a people’s mandate. But an Oxford-graduate should know such a mandate would come only from an election, not politicians’ mouths.
If any politician in this country really has ideas to reform anything, they should present the ideas as a political platform or policies to voters. If the people are in agreement, they will vote and give the mandate to those persons to conduct the reform.
As they are politicians, the best way for Abhisit and his party now is to conduct soul-searching and to map out new strategic plans to present a good platform and policies in order to win the hearts and minds of voters across the entire nation. If they were good enough, or people believed they were better than all the others, they would get power to reform whatever they deemed necessary.