“Unprincipled wants and needs of the people”

Most of the populist policies being pushed by parties competing in the December 23 general election belong to the bad variety, which means they pander to the unprincipled wants and needs of the people. What’s more, the implementation of bad populist policies could expose the country to unacceptable levels of financial liability.The problem is that it is quite difficult for many people – particularly those who are not well educated or who belong to the lower rungs of the socio-economic groups – to tell the difference between good and bad policies touted by political parties in the run-up to the election. This is not only because the country’s 75-year-old democracy has been too often punctured by periods of authoritarian rule, but also because the quality of public debate in this country has remained poor…

…To carry out populist policies, including village funds, low-cost housing projects, debt moratorium for farmers and People’s Bank credit programmes, the Thaksin government had to bend rules that were made to ensure sound governance and good economic stewardship. This allowed corruption to happen.

- Extracted from The Nation‘s editorial, “Populism rears its ugly head”, 31 October 2007.  Thailand Jumped The Skark has a characteristically forthright analysis of the whole editorial.  It is well worth a look.

About Nicholas Farrelly