Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Will Thailand go full-circle?

The new incarnation of the ruling political party the coup ousted might take the lead in expected elections, as military still rules the SE Asian state (which has a surprising 65 million people within its borders). That's some serious irony, and we see the effects of another unnecessary military coup (recently: Fiji, Thailand, Bangladesh). If people had any faith in the democratic system, if would be the people who lead the way to change. Some overthrows of governments are needed, but if people change their entire government every time they're unhappy or the military gets restless, we'd be living in a state of constant volatility and people would still be unhappy, and eventually apathetic. During the latter half of the 20th century, Thais were under a military government off-and-on.

In areas such as corruption and lack of economic progress — factors that led to the coup — there has been little if any improvement in Thailand under generals as it was under politicians. The turnout for 19 August vote on the charter was low, but the military came out ahead...

Thailand's military coup leaders have won a referendum on a new constitution by a large margin, taking around 70% of Sunday's vote, exit polls suggest.

It was the first vote to be held since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by the army last year and replaced with Gen Surayud Chulanont.
Thaksin supporters had urged a No vote, saying the new constitution had been drafted by an illegitimate government.
He said that the vote meant elections to restore democracy would be held by the end of the year.

This referendum was about a lot more than the 194-page constitution which few Thais are likely to have read, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Bangkok - it was also a vote on the coup itself.

Voter apathy will only increase as internal and external political forces collide in Thailand.

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