Popularity of Thai king sinks to new low

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Following the expensive and wasteful coronation of the despicable Wachiralongkorn, the popularity of the Thai monarchy has sunk to a new low. This is hardly surprising given his behaviour and general character. [See https://bit.ly/2VRw0v9 ].

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Wachiralongkorn peering out of his ridiculous cage-like fancy dress

Among young people, lack of respect for the monarchy can be seen in messages on social media, especially on twitter, which are both explicit and ambiguous. One of the trending hashtags that has gone viral is #กูให้พวกมึงรู้จักพอเพียง which is what was written on a sign near former princess Srirasmi’s tin shack toilet. In English it means “I have provided this for you so you lot can know sufficiency”. It is written in crude language and makes a reference to Pumipon’s Sufficiency Economics ideology. Of course neither Pumipon, Wachiralongkorn, nor any other members of the royal parasite family ever practiced sufficiency or restraint of their greed.

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The social media posts seem to indicate that anger and disgust at Wachiralongkorn have become stronger than fear of the draconian lèse-majesté law. It supports the reports from many sources that respect for the monarchy is almost non-existent among young people. Of course, to be absolutely sure about this, a proper statistical poll would have to be conducted. But this is not possible in Thailand at the moment.

Behaviour by the royals, which includes insisting on stopping all traffic, and even temporarily pausing nearby rock concerts, as they travel along the normally congested roads of Bangkok, can hardly help the popularity of the royals.

Also the practice by various members of the royal family in insisting that they do not have to pay for luxury goods in Bangkok shops, can be added to the list of disgust for the royals. None of them are immune from such behaviour, including the royals who claim to be “commoners”. [See https://bit.ly/2SHQrZW ].

The crisis of legitimacy for the monarchy will be something which will deeply worry the military junta and its friends. Even the yellow-shirted middle-class royalist reactionaries cannot hide their lack of support for Wachiralongkorn. The numbers of ordinary people attending the coronation ceremony, who were not forced to come because of their government jobs, was far less than the people who attended Pumipon’s funeral.

In the past I have speculated about this problem and suggested that one of the junta’s options would be to rely less on the monarchy to legitimise military intervention in politics and to promote the 20 year National Strategy. [See https://bit.ly/2l63Z1I ]. Another option is to concentrate on promoting nationalism. Recent changes to the National Anthem video on all TV channels indicates this to some extent. The junta has also organised electoral fraud in an attempt to give itself “democratic” legitimacy.

The junta and its allies who have been spouting about defending the monarchy with their lives are in a weak position because they are now trying to defend a rotten indefensible king.

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They are now trying to defend a rotten indefensible king.

But a Thai republic will not just emerge automatically from the sinking popularity of the monarchy. For this to happen, a pro-democracy social movement opposed to both the monarchy and the military will have to be built. This is because the monarchy is still being used by the military to defend its actions and they may try to emphasise the institution rather than the individual who is on the throne.  What is more, politicians and monarchies can find ways of reviving their popularity.

The present Thai king is both vile, unpopular and weak. He is hardly the powerful “absolute monarch” claimed by some. [See https://bit.ly/2EOjsNL ]

This is a good moment to campaign for a democratic republic.

 

Anti-Military Parties Should Not Do Dirty Deals with The Democrats and They Cannot Rely on the Courts

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

It is now clear that during the ridiculous 6 week delay in declaring the Thai election results, the Electoral Commission has managed to find a fraudulent formula to keep the junta in power. The pathetic excuse for this delay was the coronation of the odious Wachiralongkorn.

A few days after the March election it became obvious that anti-military parties like Pua Thai and Future Forward Party, along with their smaller party allies, had won both the popular vote and a majority of constituency seats. [See https://bit.ly/307AgpF ].

The result showed clearly that a majority of Thai citizens had voted against the military.

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Yet, now, the Electoral Commission has changed the dubious formula for calculating the number of “Party List” MPs for each party. Not surprisingly, the Future Forward Party has lost a number of Party List seats which it originally had. These seats have now been given to tiny unknown parties which never declared their policies towards democracy and the military. Some obtained less than 40 thousand national votes.

Hey presto!! The result is that the overall majority that the anti-military parties originally obtained in parliament has suddenly evaporated!

The small parties that gained single party list seats are not well known to most people and they were obviously ripe to be bought by the junta in order to shore up its bid to form a government. They now say that they will support Prayut’s junta.

In addition to this, key members of the Future Forward Party are facing trumped-up charges in order to try to have them disqualified.

And, as we know, the junta has appointed 250 of its own people to the senate in order to guarantee support for the military remaining in power.

Fraudulent tricks in order to claim “democratic legitimacy” have been used in other countries like Egypt and Burma. No one should be fooled by such manoeuvres.

Dirty deals with the Democrat Party and Poom Jai Thai Party

It is shocking that the so-called pro-democracy parties, especially the Future Forward Party, are considering a dirty deal with the Democrat Party and Poom Jai Thai Party in a pathetic attempt to try to stop Prayut from returning as Prime Minister.

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Such a deal with the likes of Abhisit, who murdered Red Shirt pro-democracy activists when he was last Prime Minister in a military backed government, is an insult to all those who have fought for democracy. It is also doomed to fail in terms of restoring democracy and ending the legacy of the military junta, which the Future Forward Party claimed as key policies during the election campaign. Both the Democrat Party and Poom Jai Thai Party have a history of working with military regimes.

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It represents an imbecilic obsession with dirty parliamentary politics at the expense of citizen participation. Elected politicians do deals while citizens merely sit and watch. Is this the so-called “New Future” that the Future Forward Party has been talking about? It looks much more like old-style corrupt politics.

Another example of an imbecilic obsession with parliamentary politics is the fact that Pua Thai and Future Forward Parties have threaten legal action in the courts against the Electoral Commission. But Thai courts are tools of the military junta and the conservative anti-democrats. We saw this when the courts were used to stage at least two judicial coups against elected governments in the past. The courts also selectively punished politicians like Yingluck on dubious charges while ignoring the crimes of corrupt military coupsters. The courts also struck down a proposal for a high speed rail project claiming that it would be better to improve fictitious unpaved roads in rural areas.

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Not only will relying on the courts to stop the junta’s election fraud be unsuccessful, but it will tie up politicians in long lawsuits while the junta carry on ruling the country. It amounts to a capitulation to the junta.

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The Mass Movement is the Key

Instead of these hopeless manoeuvres, the political leaders of the anti-military parties should organise their millions of supporters to attend pro-democracy rallies. This would help build a pro-democracy social movement and put pressure on the military. The lessons from many countries around the world is that democratic rights cannot be won without mass struggle.

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If the political leaders of Pua Thai and Future Forward Parties are unwilling to organise their voters into a movement, ordinary activists will have to step in and gradually build such a movement themselves.

Further reading:

Flawed Thai elections   https://bit.ly/2RIIvrD

The Thai Junta’s Road Map to “Guided Democracy” https://bit.ly/2QMrGf9

Thai Politics after the 2019 Election https://bit.ly/2UsA30a

Wasteful, greedy, idiotic and insulting to women

[sharing or liking this post in Thailand risks a long stretch in prison]

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thai people are being subjected to a lavish and wasteful ceremony in order to crown the idiotic, vicious, sexist and greedy Wachiralongkorn. The aim is to legitimise the illegitimate military junta and the rest of the barbaric Thai ruling class.

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Wachiralongkorn peering out of his ridiculous cage-like fancy dress

Wachiralongkorn never did very well at school or college. He was not interested in studying. But now this self-centred idiot claims the right to be crowned Head of State, sitting on an enormous pile of wealth.

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A Head of State should have some basic manners when conducting themselves in public. Yet he shows total lack of respect for Thai citizens. A good example is arriving hours late for a degree giving ceremony, where he just kept hundreds of students waiting until midnight.

At a high level dinner in Thailand, Wachiralongkorn allowed his dog, “Air Chief Marshall Fufu” to run up and down the high table, sniffing and licking food off the plates of Thai and foreign guests. It did not occur to him that this was a problem. He finds it impossible to tell right from wrong.

Wachiralongkorn is also known to have driven his jet on to the runway at Bangkok international airport to block the plane of the Japanese Prime Minister. This was over a personal grudge about a woman. For him, his self-centred behaviour was more important than diplomatic relations.

Members of the diplomatic community have long gossiped about how Wachiralongkorn is incapable of holding an intellectual conversation with anyone. This meant that ambassadors tried to avoid the embarrassment of meeting with him.

But much more importantly, Wachiralongkorn as King, is an insult and a slap in the face to over 35 million Thai women.

The fact that Wachiralongkorn falls in love or in lust with many women is not wrong. If he wants to take nude photographs of them to keep for himself, that is a personal matter between them and him. But his behaviour shows his basic disrespect for anyone, especially women.

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Millions of Thais and non-Thais have seen the video of Wachiralongkorn with his now ex-wife Srirasmi . They are sipping wine and eating by a swimming pool. She is naked and he is fully dressed. No accounting for taste, one might say. But it goes far beyond that. The male servants are in full uniform and there are people taking the video and snap shots. Wachiralongkorn makes his ex-wife crawl on the ground, naked, to take cake, like he was feeding a dog. Millions of Thais have seen a whole clutch of nude pictures of his other various girlfriends. He is an arrogant sexist pig. He does not have an ounce of respect for women. He abuses them with his power and money. And his money is taken from the collective wealth of the Thai people. He is now the most wealthly man in Thailand.

Why were these pictures released to the Thai public on the internet? It is hard to guess what goes on in Wachiralongkorn’s depraved mind. He is so alienated that he does not know how to respect anyone. The release of these pictures is not an accident. They have been coming out at regular intervals for years. Maybe he wants to destroy the women’s dignity and show that he is boss. Maybe he wants to show off that he can “pull” beautiful women. Maybe he feels that no one can touch him and he can do what he likes. In other words he doesn’t give a damn.

After Wachiralongkorn ditched Srirasmi, he has subjected her to systematic abuse, ordering his minions to make her life a living hell. The picture below from the German newspaper Bild asks whether she is under house-arrest.

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And this, also from Bild, is the tin shack which Wachiralongkorn has forced Srirasmi to use as a bathroom and toilet while under house arrest. The sign reads “I have provided this for you so you can know sufficiency”. It is written in crude language.

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Now we hear that Wachiralongkorn has appointed one of his many mistresses to be Queen. He also has a habit of appointing his women to high positions in the military. This tedious behaviour only adds to the burden of Thai citizens in paying for the lavish life-styles of these parasites.

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The mainstream Thai press have been busy reporting the so-called “achievements” of the new queen. None of these amount to anything. That is not surprising given that the only abilities of the royals that really matter are the ability to have sex and procreate and the ability to be a parasite living off the hard work of citizens.

Do not forget that his mother, the old Queen, looked upon her son with fondness and forgave all. They are close. The old Queen and one of her daughters openly supported the semi-fascist PAD and Sutep’s anti-democratic mob. His father, Pumipon, remained silent, refusing to criticise his son. This is a filthy rich dysfunctional family, like most royal families. We should get rid of the lot of them and this includes the equally parasitic Crown Princess Sirintorn and her elder sister Ubonrut.

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Remember that in Thailand people are forced to stand up and show respect to the Head of State. Draconian laws exist to enforce this. People must crawl and use Royal Language. They must wait in snarled-up traffic as the Royals rush past. They must pay taxes to support the Royals’ rich life-styles. Today this includes Wachiralongkorn’s palace in Germany, where he chooses to spend most of his life, jetting back and forth to Thailand when necessary. It shows that he really does not care about Thai society and merely wants to be King.  It also shows that he has little power and is just a useful tool of the military. [See https://bit.ly/2EOjsNL and https://bit.ly/2teiOzQ .]

The fanatical royalist generals who are in power today claim that the monarchy needs to be defended to the end because it is a symbol of the Thai nation. They claim that those who criticise the monarchy are a threat to national security. But this symbol of Thailand, which the generals promote, is an expensive embarrassment. Wachiralongkorn is idiotic, vicious, sexist and greedy. He does not represent the vast majority of Thai citizens.

Yet the generals are hedging their bets. The new TV video to accompany the National Anthem at 6pm stresses nationalism under the military. Clearly just relying on the rotten monarchy is not a very safe bet.

Those looking for a far better symbol of Thailand can look to the struggles and sacrifices of ordinary Thai citizens in the long-running fight for freedom and democracy. The Head of State should therefore be an elected ordinary citizen.

Thailand should be a Republic.

Electoral Commission facilitates Thai junta’s election fraud

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

There is an old saying that “voting changes nothing”. This is absolutely true in the case of Thailand, where the military junta are still in power and there is no new government, despite the fact that the junta lost the popular vote to pro-democracy parties in the March election.

One month has now elapsed since the Thai junta’s flawed elections and incredibly the final result has yet to be announced. The reason for this is that the junta-appointed electoral commission is busy trying to engineer and cover up the election fraud.

The commission is yet to release voting figures for each constituency. This is probably because there are some clear irregularities is some areas. But the real fraud is taking place with the Electoral Commission’s complex formula for calculating the number of “Party List” MPs. Seats in the 500 seat elected parliament are split between 350 constituency seats and 150 party list seats. The formula for calculating the number of Party List MPs is so complicated that even the Electoral Commission does not understand it. It has sent its formula for the junta appointed courts to approve.

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Thai Electoral Commission’s formula for calculating Party List seats

The details of the complicated formula for the number of Party List seats does not really matter. What matters is that the result can be manipulated so that Generalissimo Prayut stays as Prime Minister and that his party manages to create an overall majority to back up this fraud. So the process seems to start with writing down the number of Party List seats necessary for a junta majority, irrespective of the number of votes. The Electoral Commission can then work backwards to construct a formula which allows this to happen. This involves giving some small irrelevant anti-democratic parties some Party List seats.

Even before this outright fraud, the junta did all in its dictatorial power to make sure it was “seen” to “win” the election. This involved giving civilian parties serious handicaps in the run up to the election, dissolving Taksin’s Thai Raksa Chart Party for no legitimate reason, and stacking the Senate with military appointees.

After the election, the leader of the new Future Forward Party was then charged with sedition and told that his trial would be held in a military court. The Future Forward Party won a large number of votes on an anti-military platform. Military figures and junta toadies have also been threatening all those who oppose the military, in a return to crude Cold War tactics.

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The upshot of all this is that the March 2019 elections were not in any way free or fair and Thailand cannot be said to have “returned to democracy”. The junta is intent on continuing its illegitimate and authoritarian rule by claiming to govern through an elected parliament.

The struggle for democracy and human rights must continue.

[See “Thai Politics after the 2019 Election” https://bit.ly/2UsA30a .]

Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

After the Thai junta’s recent flawed elections, there are voices of pessimism being raised about the prospects of democracy in the country. Many raise the monarchy as a reason to explain why the pro-democracy side are “always” unsuccessful.

But they ignore the evidence about how little power is actually in the hands of King Wachiralongkorn and more importantly, they ignore Thai history.

Wachiralongkorn is a play-boy puppet of the military junta, who spends almost all of his time living in Germany. He has never expressed a view about politics and society. When he quoted his father, just before the election, to say that people should vote for “good” people, if it was supposed to encourage citizens to vote for the junta party, it did not work. A majority of people voted for anti-military parties and the proportion voting for pro-junta parties corresponded to the number of votes cast by middle-class yellow shirts in the 2011 election. [See https://bit.ly/2EOjsNL ].

The democratic space in Thailand, and in any other society, is never a fixed item. It expands and contracts in accordance with the level of struggle and public opinion. The democratic space in Thailand was expanded after the victories of mass social movements against the military in 1973 and 1992. Even in 2010, when the red shirts were gunned down in cold blood, the actions of the movement forced an election one year later, which Yingluk’s Pua Thai Party won in a landslide victory.

It is interesting to note that in 1991, King Pumipon came out and praised junta head Suchinda. One year later, a mass movement toppled Suchinda from power. So much for the influence of the monarchy!

Often, the voices of pessimism reflect mood swings, from wildly optimistic hopes that the junta and its legacy could be destroyed merely by putting a cross against pro-democracy parties on the ballot paper, and the realisation that this will not be nearly enough.

As I have written before, this is understandable and deep down people knew in their heart of hearts that a long struggle would be necessary to achieve democracy. People were just desperate to believe in an easier route.

But activists need to do better than this. They need to think about Antonio Gramsci’s motto on looking at politics. Gramsci proposed that we should have “pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will”.

In terms of current Thai politics this means that we should realise the real obstacles to building democracy. In a nutshell we are faced with a “Guided Democracy” system crafted by the military, which has created a 20 year National Strategy, a military appointed senate and judiciary, and a warped electoral process which favours the junta. The junta is also still using repression against activists.

We also need to realise that in the real world, the only power that can destroy the military’s hold on politics is a mass social movement aimed at expanding the democratic space. We need to see that such a movement, in the shape of the red shirts, was put into cold storage and destroyed by Taksin and his allies, in the mistaken hope that a grubby deal could be reached with the military. Finally, we need to take a hard look at the weak state of the pro-democracy movement since Prayut’s military coup in 2014. It has been fragmented and has concentrated on symbolic gestures by a small number of young activists.

This is the “pessimism of the intellect”.

But the “optimism of the will” means that after studying the reality of the Thai history of struggle, we can realise that a mass social movement can gradually be built and such movements have beaten the military in the past. But to be successful, lessons also need to be learnt from past mistakes such as allowing people like Taksin to have too much influence over the movement, failing to build the movement among students, young people and trade unions, and relying on static prolonged street encampments rather than individual days of protests and strikes.

The junta can be beaten, but only by building a mass movement guided by ideas grounded in reality which are a result of vigorous and democratic discussions within the movement.

[Further reading: Thai Politics after the 2019 Election https://bit.ly/2UsA30a ].

Thai junta party’s lack of democratic legitimacy vital for building a mass pro-democracy social movement

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

In my previous post I wrote that: “Both in terms of the popular votes for and against the junta and the estimates of seats, Prayut has no legitimate democratic claim to form a government. But that may not stop him from muscling his way into government. He has already claimed the right to form a government because his party won most votes, ignoring the higher combined votes against the junta. Even if he does not install himself as Prime Minister, the military will still use every means possible stop a civilian government from functioning normally”.

The obvious conclusion from any study of the ebb and flow of class struggle in Thailand since 1932, is that progressive steps to increase the democratic space and to reduce inequality have always taken place in the context of previous victories or pressure from mass social movements. This is the kind of idea put forward by Rosa Luxemburg a century ago in her important pamphlet on “Reform or Revolution”.

An example of the importance of social movements is the consequences of the 1992 uprising against the military and the events after that. In 1991 the military staged a coup against an elected government which it feared would reduce its role in society. Resistance to the coup took a year to gather momentum, but in May 1992 a mass uprising in Bangkok braved deadly gunfire from the army and overthrew the junta. A key issue was that the junta head had appointed himself as Prime Minister after the 1992 elections. Many activists in this uprising had previously cut their teeth in the struggles of the 1970s.

Four years after this uprising, Thailand experienced a deep economic crisis. Activists pushed for a new, more democratic constitution, in the hope that the country could escape from the cycle of corruption, human rights abuses and military coups. There was also an increase in workers’ struggles and one factory was set alight by workers who had had their wages slashed as a result of the crisis. The new democratic constitution was only possible because of the victorious uprising against the military.

In the general election of January 2001, Taksin Shinawat’s Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) won a landslide victory. The election victory was in response to previous government policy under the Democrats, which had totally ignored the plight of the rural and urban poor during the crisis. TRT also made 3 important promises to the electorate. These were (1) a promise to introduce a Universal Health Care Scheme for all citizens, (2) a promise to provide a 1 million baht job creation loan to each village in order to stimulate economic activity and (3) a promise to introduce a debt moratorium for farmers. The policies of TRT arose from a number of factors such as the victory against the military in 1992 and the climate for reform, the 1997 economic crisis and its effects upon ordinary people and finally the influence of some ex-student activists from the 1970s within the party. The government delivered on all their promises which resulted in mass support for the party.

Eventually, there was a backlash from the conservative sections of the ruling class and most of the middle-classes. It is this conservative backlash that re-established the era of military rule with the coup in September in 2006. But the military were not confident enough to avoid holding elections one year later. However, they did manage to rewrite a more authoritarian version of the constitution beforehand. Taksin’s party won a majority in this election, but the government was overthrown by the conservative and military-backed judiciary. The military then installed a Democrat Party government. This military-backed authoritarian government was opposed by the Red Shirt movement, which became the largest pro-democracy social movement in Thai history. The Red Shirts were primarily a movement of small farmers and urban workers. [See: “The Role of Thai Social Movements in Democratisation” https://bit.ly/2aDzest ]

The military and the Democrat government responded to the rise of the Red Shirts with lethal violence against unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. Yet, pressure from the Red Shirts meant that elections were held in 2011 and Taksin’s Pua Thai Party won a landslide victory in these elections. Yingluk became Prime Minister. But her government was weak and operated under threats from the military and the conservative middle-classes, which eventually wrecked the 2014 elections. An important weakness of the Yingluk government was the fact that she refused to call on the Red Shirt movement to protect her government. Instead, Taksin and Yingluk preferred to make compromises with the military and the conservatives, which merely encouraged anti-democratic forces.

Despite the fact that the Red Shirt movement was a grass-roots social movement with many elements of self-activity, political leadership remained with Taksin and his allies. More progressive voices were too small to develop an independent leadership. This meant that Taksin was able to de-mobilise the movement after the election of the Yingluk government. This opened the door to the Prayut coup of 2014.

What all this means for the present situation in Thailand, after the 2019 election, is that only the pressure from a mass social movement can prevent the military from stealing the election or, in the event of a new government led by the Pua Thai or Future Forward parties, such a movement will be vital to ensure that the government can move forward to dismantle the legacy of the dictatorship. Already, the leadership of the Future Forward Party are facing lawsuits initiated by the military in order to weaken the opposition to the dictatorship. Parliamentary politics on its own cannot achieve this. If no movement is built, the legacy of the dictatorship will be extended far into the future.

It will take time a much discussion in order to build a new pro-democracy social movement because the leaders of the main anti-junta parties have not shown an interest in this. But a new movement can be built if people learn the lessons from the past.

[For a full analysis of the 2019 election, read “Thai Politics after the 2019 Election“]

What now after the Thai election?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The flawed election of March 2019 was conducted under undemocratic rules written by Prayut’s military junta. The junta built a “Guided Democracy” system under their control. Important elements of this consist of the “National 20 Year Strategy” and various junta-appointed bodies, including the Senate, the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court. Dictator Prayut has an in-built advantage due to his control of 250 military-appointed senators. This means that he can become Prime Minister if his military party, Palang Pracharut, is backed by votes from the Senate. Yet, Prayut and his party lost the popular vote to pro-democracy parties and had fewer elected seats.

The junta party did not win the popular vote, as claimed by the dictator himself, and echoed by the foreign media. We have to understand that the junta’s election rules resulted in fragmentation of political parties. This was a blatant anti-Taksin measure. In response, Taksin’s parties divided into two main parties, Pua Thai and Thai Raksa Chart, with a couple more minor parties like Pua Chart and Pracharchart. For this reason it is not valid to look at the number of votes won by just one party. A bigger picture of the popular vote for and against the regime needs to be viewed.

In the run up to the election, Prayut and his military junta remained in power. Pro-democracy civilian politicians were continually harassed and prevented from electioneering until the last minute, unlike the junta party.

The junta-appointed Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party because it proposed Princess Ubonrut as candidate for Prime Minister. This was a major act of election rigging by the junta. Despite complaints to the Electoral Commission about the junta party’s mis-use of public funds and the fact that Prayut should have been ineligible to stand as a Prime Ministerial candidate because he was still a “State Official”, no action was taken. All this shows the blatant manipulation of the election by the junta.

The Electoral Commission faced a number of questions about how it conducted the vote. Vote counting suddenly stopped for 3 days for no reason in the early hours of 25th March, when 94% of the votes were counted. More questions also arose because there were 2 million supposedly “spoilt votes”. Many voting stations had dubious numbers of votes which did not tally with the number of people registered to vote, there was much confusion about seat numbers, and votes from New Zealand took a week to arrive and were deemed “invalid” by the Commission. To top it all the final tally of votes announced on 28th March was full of discrepancies. No wonder then, that huge numbers of citizens believe that there was widespread fraud. Never the less, it is unlikely that any blatant large scale ballot box stuffing took place.

The shambles over the election results was likely to be a combination of total incompetence by the Electoral Commission and minor fraud.

The commission claim that the final number of seats for each party would not be declared until May! This gives the Commission plenty of time to disqualify any candidates or parties opposed to the junta.

Despite the flawed nature of the election, the voting process provided an opportunity for citizens to express a vote of no confidence in the dictatorship by voting for Pua Thai, Pua Chart, Pracharchart, Future Forward and Seri Ruam Thai Parties. Even though the precise figures are problematic, the overall picture of the voting tally remained the same since 25th March. The pro-democracy side won the popular vote.

The majority of voters were not stupid. They knew in their heart of hearts that the junta had fixed the rules. Yet despite this, they wanted to optimistically dream that placing a cross against pro-democracy parties could destroy the junta. The alternative to this would be to accept that a long hard struggle against the junta would be necessary. This is understandable. But now people are waking up.

The junta party lost the popular vote

Pua Thai and Future Forward Party won 7.9 and 6.3 million votes, respectively. Their combined popular vote is therefore 14.2 million. If three other minor parties which are opposed to the junta are counted, the combined anti-junta vote stands at 15.9 million or 41.5%.

The junta’s party, Palang Pracharrut, won 8.4 million votes. Two parties which stated before the election that they would ally with the junta, Poomjai Thai and Sutep’s Ruam Palang Pracharchart Thai Parties won 3.7 million and 0.4 million votes, respectively, bringing the combined pro-junta vote to only 12.5 million or 32.6%.

The Democrat Party vote is not counted in the above combined pro-junta tally because before the election, their leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, declared that they would not support Prayut for Prime Minister.

The Democrat Party suffered a big defeat, gaining only 4 million votes, down from 11.4 million in the 2011 election. They failed to get a single seat in Bangkok. Sutep’s mafia-style grip on his home province in the south was also destroyed and his party performed abysmally.

The NGO-influenced Commoners’ party also performed badly, winning only five thousand votes.

Seats in the 500 seat elected parliament are split between 350 constituency seats and 150 party list seats. The allocation of “party list” seats under the junta’s rules is a ridiculously complicated affair, designed to weigh against large parties like Pua Thai. The numbers of party list seats will not be confirmed until May and can easily change. Estimates of total numbers of seats point to Pua Thai gaining 137 seats and Future Forward gaining 89 seats.

Seven parties, led by Pua Thai and Future Forward, announced on 27th March that they would try to form an anti-junta government. Other parties supporting this coalition include Pua Chart, Pracharchart, Seri Ruam Thai, Palang Buangchon Thai and the New Economics Parties. Together the combined number of anti-junta seats should be around 256, which is a majority of the lower house. However, The New Economics Party’s 6 seats may not be reliable and the number of seats may change.

The junta party was estimated to have 121 seats, lower than Pua Thai. Combined with Poomjai Thai and Sutep’s party, the combined pro-junta seats stand at around 179. But if the Democrats use their 56 seats to support the junta, breaking their manifesto promise, the total number of seats still only reaches 235. Yet, the junta is claiming that it has the “right” to form a government. They may also use the 250 military-appointed senators to claim a majority.

The political divisions in Thai society have not changed significantly

The turnout was 74.7% of the 51.2 million electorate. This is similar to the turn out in the 2011 election where the turnout was 75% of a smaller electorate of 46.9 million.

It looks like the anti-democratic middle-class, or former yellow shirts, switched to voting directly for the junta instead of the “junta-proxy” Democrats, which they had supported back in 2011. The 2011 election was held soon after the bloody crackdown against the red shirts by the military installed Democrat government. This switch in voting explains why the junta party did well. It cannot be described as a “surge in support” for dictatorship.

If we factor in the enlarged electorate since 2011, we can see that the number of votes for the junta party and the Democrat Party combined, was similar to the Democrat vote in 2011.

The Pua Thai votes dropped from 15.7 million in 2011 to 7.9 million in 2019. This reflected the fact that Pua Thai deliberately did not stand in all constituencies in order not to split the vote with its sister party Thai Raksa Chart. The latter was then disbanded by the Constitutional Court. The disbanding of the Thai Raksa Chart party may have caused confusion and may have helped increase votes for Poomjai Thai party from 1.3 to 3.7 million. This party was made up of some former Taksin-allied politicians who now support the junta. The electorate also had two main choices between large anti-junta parties: Pua Thai and Future Forward. This was not the case in 2011.

Banal statement by the King

Just before Election Day, Wachiralongkorn urged the Thai people to “vote for good people”. He could not even manage to come up with this banal statement on his own, having to quote one of his late father’s statements. Conspiracy theorists wet themselves with excitement, claiming that this was an intervention in the election on behalf of the military because the junta had spent years claiming to be good people. Of course, these claims were pure nonsense. Firstly, figures showed that no one who was opposed to the military took the slightest notice of this. The same goes for pro-junta voters. Secondly, this kind of banal statement is typical of the kind of thing that the Thai monarchy has always said. It is meaningless, neutral and open to anyone to interpret in any way they wish. In short, it was irrelevant to the election.

The crisis of democracy will not be resolved in parliament

Both in terms of the popular votes for and against the junta and the estimates of seats, Prayut has no legitimate democratic claim to form a government. But that may not stop him from muscling his way into government. He has already claimed the right to form a government because his party won most votes, ignoring the higher combined votes against the junta. Even if he does not install himself as Prime Minister, the military will still use every means possible stop a civilian government from functioning normally. As Taksin wrote recently in a New York Times article, whichever side forms a government there will be instability.

Only the pressure from a mass social movement can prevent the military from stealing the election or, in the event of a new government led by the Pua Thai and Future Forward parties, such a movement will be vital to ensure that the government can move forward to dismantle the legacy of the dictatorship. Parliamentary politics on its own cannot achieve this.

Thai politics