The challenge for Mr Abhisit, a technocrat well disposed to democracy, is to deliver enough political reforms and start spending more money on health and welfare in the provinces to calm the Red Shirts down, without upsetting the elites. This will be easier said than done. The prime minister has no electoral mandate and while he has stared down the Red Shirt militia he dare not upset the other side, lest its Yellow Shirt supporters take to the streets and bring the army’s senior officers with them. His present plan, to crack down on Red Shirt leaders while promising to address economic inequalities seems the only conciliatory course.
All Thais should wish him luck. The alternatives to a political culture where everybody accepts election results are either chaos or another coup.
- Extracted from “Red and yellow signal trouble for Thailand”, The Australian, 24 May 2010.