After the Constitutional Court's ruling that dismissed caretaker prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, many interpreted the decision in different ways.
Some people see the ousting of Yingluck from the post as her loss. Others, though, point to her somewhat sanguine facial expression as an indication that she may have felt relieved to be free of the burden passed on to her by her brother, fugitive former premier Thaksin.
There’s a school of thought, too, that the ruling was a victory for Yingluck and her government. Most existing Cabinet members will retain their posts and Pheu Thai is still the (caretaker) ruling party. It can look ahead to the next election in a strong position.
Although anti-government groups were happy that Yingluck was finally forced out of her post, the court ruling highlighting her illegitimacy, the ball is still firmly in their court. There is no political vacuum, which will pave the way for a non-elected PM, as they want. What are they going to do next?
Critics of the Constitutional Court, meanwhile, have argued that the court was biased and already knew its verdict even before the trial. Still, the court’s ruling was not so extreme as to lead to violence, contrary to warnings from various parties.
One interesting question is whether the Constitutional Court’s ruling or any other decision by independent agencies changes the situation (I don’t want to use the word “game”) in Thai politics?
No matter how the ruling is interpreted, it is clear that the huge political division remains. Priorities are different on both sides and even among those who do not identify with either one. Therefore, someone will always be unhappy. Everybody wants to win, but is such an absolute victory possible?
Government supporters have attacked the legitimacy of independent agencies and insist that decisions on the fate of politicians should be made through elections.
Anti-government groups, meanwhile, insist that the court and other independent agencies are legitimate mechanisms in a system of check and balances.
To the opposing sides, there are different preferred choices on what, or who, should have the final say: election or court (and independent agencies)?
Although Yingluck is gone, her men remain and will continue to push for an election. Without prior reform, however, the government’s opponents are unlikely to accept the result of such a poll, knowing the Thaksin camp is likely to win a majority again.
The opposing sides cannot agree whether to reform and revise the rules – and make sure they are free, fair and agreed – before the election, or to have political parties propose their reform ideas and fight on that platform in the election.
Although the court did not deliver an extreme verdict, nobody is fully happy with the outcome and frustration could mount. The rift between opposing sides continues and is likely to widen.
The question is, will the stand-off reach a breaking point, a stage that will be painful for everyone? Will an absolute victory for one side start a new round of the fight?
Alternatively, can conflicting parties try harder to focus on the common goal of moving Thailand forward by talking and listening with open hearts?
There are many others who identify with neither of the opposing groups. Their voices must also be heard.
Whether or not they intend to abuse their power, politicians have a habit of using their influence to benefit themselves the most.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling may be historic for not only ousting the PM, but for also showing that politicians cannot just move the goalposts on a whim.
In this sense, democracy lovers and the people who promote equality should be happy that the court, and Thai society, is doing its best to promote transparency against the patronage system.