Saturday, February 25, 2006

Opposition parties consider extraordinary boycott of election

excerpts from an unusually good editorial in today's The Nation:

The Democrat, Chat Thai and Mahachon parties said they would decide today whether to boycott the election.


With money politics continuing to be the name of the game, the table is tilted heavily in favour of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party, which possesses an unparalleled electoral war chest. The widely held perception that the Election Commission cannot be relied on to ensure free and fair elections must also be one of the determining factors.


Thaksin must have thought that he had it all figured out when he took the calculated risk of dissolving the House of Representatives to pave the way for a snap election. He fully expected that he and his ruling Thai Rak Thai Party would be returned to power again with an ample parliamentary majority.

He may well be right given the broad-based popularity that he continues to enjoy among the uncritical, politically apathetic masses, who have acquired a taste for instant gratification thanks to the Thai Rak Thai Party's populist policies.

But Thaksin could not be more wrong if he thinks that scoring another major victory at the polls will absolve his many transgressions against the nation's democracy committed during the previous five years, or help him regain his legitimacy to rule. Yet that appears to be what the incumbent prime minister is thinking.


There is a better alternative to boycotting the election: an impartial caretaker government that could first implement political reforms through constitutional amendments with broad-based participation by the public. Then we could proceed to free and fair elections.