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PM's future trivial given huge philosophical differences

It should be clear to even a casual follower of the political crisis that neither the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej nor the dissolution of Parliament will put an end to the deadlock. And a proposed referendum on whether the premier should stay or resign would likely be rejected by the anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) appears determined to establish nothing less than their so-called "New Politics", but with a fresh general election, the ruling People Power Party (PPP) appears likely to gain the most votes and form a government yet again.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul may have given a huge discount, as quoted by the Bangkok Post yesterday, when he said that perhaps the PAD's original 70:30 ratio proposal - wherein 70 per cent of the members of Parliament should be appointed and 30 per cent elected - could be reduced to 50:50, to make it more palatable.

A generous concession it may be, but this kind of New Politics would still automatically reduce every citizen's right to elect their own representatives by half.

Should the rural and urban poor, who form the largest block of voters, be returned to feudal times and be made to accept rule by a small group of self-righteous and supposedly benign rulers - leaders that would be appointed by an even a smaller group of "benign" elite? Would a majority of voters really accept, let alone learn to be content with, such a system?

If the PAD advocates this rule by the few - which could easily degenerate into rule by the fewer for the fewer - then there's no meaningful electoral and political space for rural and urban poor under the New Politics scheme, and indeed for most other voters as well.

So when will the well-intended but self-righteous middle class and elite who have been occupying Government House wake up to the reality that they will ultimately have to share political power and some space with the majority of the populace, distasteful though the thought might be? Or perhaps they believe the formula of 70:30 under New Politics is already "sharing", even if it must be discounted to 50:50.

As much as the Thai media like to talk about the need for the rural and urban poor needing re-education about the meaning and mechanism of elections and democracy, the so-called "educated" middle class and elite also need to unlearn their stereotypes and prejudices and learn more about democracy themselves.

For one thing, while the majority of the PAD protesters seem middle class and even conspicuously rich, a visible presence of urban and rural poor within the PAD rally can also be detected. Does this not mean that not all poor and less-formally educated people are "hopeless" from the standpoint of the PAD, who carp on so much about how "naive" the poor urban and rural voters are?

A recent remark by a major PAD supporter and jewellery-business owner Preeda Tia-suwan is very revealing. Last Saturday, at a public symposium attended by academics at Chulalongkorn University, Preeda defended the PAD's ASTV satellite television mouthpiece, saying it was not cultivating any political cult.

Preeda stressed those who watched ASTV and attended PAD rallies could not possibly have been brainwashed, "because they are middle-class people".

So now there is a new theory based on the notion that the so-called educated middle class are somehow immune to propaganda and brainwashing and an assumption that others outside this group easily fall for it.

The longer the "educated" middle class and elite continue to fail to see that an election does not ensure an honest and morally upright government - but it does ensure that every voter has a say in choosing their own representatives - the longer the political crisis and confrontation will linger. The current drama could take years, if not decades, to resolve itself. It is nothing short of a class war with two opposite groups of elites backing their respective sides, as well as a struggle to legitimise or invalidate the electoral process.

Source: 
<p>http://nationmultimedia.com/2008/09/05/politics/politics_30082644.php</p>

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