Part 5 of 5
There are many figures who have major stakes in the status quo. Even those who believe in a social revolution of some sort would be dubious about it occurring as a result of a one-party government run by a billionaire again.
That means that looking past the near term events, the legacy of Thaksin’s rule and his agitation from abroad may be the return of the military into the political sphere.
This is predicated on the idea that neither the military nor any of the political groupings are likely to let events transpire so that Thaksin can return scot free. Even major politicians in the Pheu Thai have the most to gain from first returning to power on Thaksin coattails, then dragging their feet and then blaming others for the lack of his return. The power and position they would have in a sitting government would be far superior to a future where Thaksin and a cadre of others usurp their roles and push everyone a rung further down on the political ladder (again, this is why a Thaksin family member must end up as PM).
In the middle-term future, there may be more bombings, shootings, more street fighting and even claims again of civil war, but ultimately, when the dust settles, it may be that the victor is once again the military in its traditional role of political interloper and “protector of the nation.”
Observers on every side of the political equation have begun to question the military role already—especially as the military is no longer blundering into the debate with tanks on the street, but with subtle, behind-the-scenes machinations and threats. Even if some saw military action as necessary to prevent a Thaksin return and an end to the present Thai political system, they have to acknowledge that events are once again returning the nation to a future past: weak coalition governments under the watchful eye of a military always wanting a political role without having to resort to a vote.
Of course, none of this is happening during a Cold War era and technology is democratizing expression in Thailand. The entire Thaksin experience has redefined the relationship between political parties and the populace they represent. Open protest, while still not accepted as in the West, has become the norm.
In this environment, the look of a military dominated political system on the ground would be different from the past and perhaps not even obvious. Even now the Pheu Thai and Red Shirts seem to be having little traction with the concept of “silent coup.” It is hard to define this if you cannot point to tanks rolling through the streets.
So if and when the Thaksin schism in politics ends someday, all civilian political eyes will look to the military (as well as one other pressing issue) in terms of making sure these institutions are minimized and are least able to check any actions a civilian government wants to take (whether they be rural reform or gross profiteering).
Back to Part 1: Returning the Nation to a Future Past