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Asean Affairs  9 December 2010

Does this political party have nine lives?

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     9 December 2010

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Once again, Thailand’s Democrat Party, the country’s oldest political party (established in 1946), has survived a dissolution case before that nation’s Constitutional Court.

In a 4-3 decision that was even closer than the 4-2 vote in an earlier dissolution case, the court threw out the dissolution case on a legal technicality, saying the case was not properly filed. The same rationale was used in an earlier decision.

This means that before the end of next year, the ruling party must dissolve the parliament and call a general election.

The two similar court decisions are unlikely to quell the opinions of the rural masses in north and northeast Thailand that a double standard of justice exists in Thailand. On two earlier occasions, parties aligned with fugitive former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, were dissolved forcing two prime ministers from office in 2008. One of them, the late Samak Sundaravej, was removed for taking payments for hosting TV cooking shows Mr. Thaksin, himself, was deposed in 2006 by a military coup.

Politicians opposed to the Democrats reacted against the decision and said that the decisions would only reinforce the view of double standards in the justice system and ultimately may sabotage the reconciliation and reform efforts championed by the Democrats following the red shirt protest that ended violently on May 19.

In the precarious world of Thai politics it is unwise to project what may happen in 2011, other than a national election is to be called. However, most observers feel that little has been done to heal the wounds of May 19 and the results of a 2011 general election may reflect that.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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