Part 2 of 5
Scenario: A Government Including a Minimized Pheu Thai
As noted in the earlier analysis (The Crusade to Minimize Thaksin), a diverse grouping that includes the Pheu Thai would be the ideal for the establishment in the longer term view. A Pheu Thai Party with a large majority would not be amenable to such a plan, but a moderate showing for the party would open the door to an old-style coalition government dominated by parties like Bhumjaithai, Chatthaipattana, and a grab bag of others.
The intent of this grouping would be to minimize Pheu Thai’s goal of acting on Thaksin’s behalf. At the same time it would allow the establishment to claim that some sort of reconciliation has been achieved with the inclusion of the Pheu Thai in a government. It would blunt the need for Red Shirts to agitate against the government again.
This could be a Sanan or Purachai led government, both of whom are aggressively promoting themselves as acceptable middle path leadership figures. Sanan, given the depth of his connections, could possibly bridge the gap between almost any of the parties.
Purachai could incite MPs factions within the Pheu Thai to covertly abandon the Thaksin cause and be part of a government eager to pass effective legislation. This sort of duplicity among Pheu Thai MPs—that is the willingness to ride Thaksin to power, but then going slow on bringing him back—is the key issue threatening Thaksin’s ambitions.
Disregard vows by parties that they will never deal with another party. There are no permanent enemies in Thai politics. The bizarre political parings in the present government show that this historical trend is more pronounced now than ever before.
Thaksin would likely only opt for this sort of grouping as a last resort. This is why it is key that Yingluck lead a Pheu Thai-dominated government. Any other figure risks the party spinning out of Thaksin control. If a diverse coalition government does come to pass, it would only be because Pheu Thai (and Thaksin) are convinced that establishment threats of a coup or other measures to prevent it coming to power are very real.
This scenario of mixing parties would lead to a fractious and weak grouping as the Pheu Thai side tries to exert itself. Pushing against this would be the same establishment power that has kept the current government of odd fellows together.
If this sort of government becomes gridlocked over Thaksin issues, it might cause other unusual events to happen. One might be a peculiar scenario where Red Shirt or Pheu Thai rallies are held to protest against the government they are a part of.
If this sort of government is created, and if Thaksin can be isolated, then amnesty or pardons would be on the table only as part of a Thai-style political end game.
It is important to understand that in the Thai world, reconciliation means pardons or amnesty where all are absolved and no one is questioned. As Yingluck herself said, “everything must be returned to square one, to the principle of equal justice.”
This is not about truth-telling commissions or holding anyone accountable. It is all about a return to unity and not blaming anyone. This is why reconciliation is always about amnesty. Beyond the fact that the Pheu Thai goal is to enable Thaksin’s return to power, the Thai political solution is to reset the clock—not the open airing of grievances which is seen as a blemish on society. This was exactly the Thai-style solution for the 1992 crisis.
To a Western viewpoint this can seem very unfair and dissatisfying. If at some point in the future there is an amnesty and if you as a Westerner are feeling dissatisfied, then you know Thai-style reconciliation has been reached.
Scenario: A Government Excluding the Pheu Thai
A government excluding Pheu Thai would create the same situation as now, but with more urgency for Thaksin to take action. This is the worst possible outcome for Thaksin—status quo.
It would emphasize to his MPs that the establishment is, and will continue to be, successful at waiting Thaksin out. Add in a compromise PM like Sanan at the helm and it would further muddy the message that the non-Pheu Thai government must step down. Every day the new government remained in power would further cement this impression.
This would mean the Red Shirts would be called out on the streets again to close Rajaprasong and threaten Thai-style “dissatisfaction.” There could also be bombings or other unconventional responses to rattle the state.
Overseas Thaksin/Red Shirt lobbyists will be screaming that a fix was on and an injustice was happening, but the international community has shown little sympathy for Thaksin’s return. In this scenario Thaksin would have to act fast or his fortunes would be severely impaired.