Thaksin’s luck never seems to run out. Despite being besieged by so many woes and having had numerous close shaves to his power, he manages to gain the upper hand at the last moment. The present situation is no different.
Up to last week, the tide was against Thaksin with General Sondhi Boonyaratglin deploying “middle-ranking personnel… sympathetic to the government… out of Bangkok”. This was to prevent a pro-Thaksin military coup from occurring, the Nation said. Moreover, highly-respected General Prem Tinsulanonda, the president of the Privy Council, rebutted Thaksin’s “crybaby” letters to the United States and ASEAN leaders by stressing the military’s primary duty to the King and country, not to the governments that come and go at every election. It was also reported that there might be an internal Thai Rak Thai power struggle in which Thaksin would be dethroned.
Just as Thaksin was fretting on how to ease the tense political situation and maintain power by reconciling the with opposition parties, in particular meeting up with Chart Thai party leader Banharn Silpa-archa, the King has issued a royal decree endorsing the October 15 elections. The Nation said that Thaksin “smiled for the first time in several months” with this news.
Meanwhile, Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva continues to demand the resignation of the remaining three members of the Election Commission. If this happens, a new slate of five election commissioners would be appointed by the Supreme Court. This is deemed fairer than Thaksin's suggestion that the Supreme Court appoint two more commissioners “to fill the vacant seats on the EC” as this “would worsen the standoff between Thai Rak Thai and its rivals”, the Bangkok Post reported. The verdict on the three remaining election commissioners is due this week and will colour how the coming elections will be held.
Presently, Bangkok has shown who it favours in its municipal elections. The Democrats have beaten the TRT party soundly, winning 35 out of 57 contested city council seats and 175 out of 255 district seats, Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) Permanent Secretary Natanol Thaweesin told the media. The TRT won 18 council seats and 71 district seats.
Whatever happens in the coming elections, astrologers have claimed that the stars shine brightly for Thaksin. Both Arun Kumar Bansal, chairman of the India-based Future Point Organiser and Pinyo Pongcharoen, president of the International Astrological Association have predicted that Thaksin will not win the coming elections but will make a comeback within the next five years. Apparently Saturn is blocking out Thailand’s prosperity and Thaksin's fortune.
It is therefore little wonder that Thaksin wants to keep his political plans under wraps even if it ostensibly affects the TRT’s campaign. Talking to the media, Thaksin said, “It's not the campaigning period now. I will tell (people) during the election campaign, but I already have an answer in my mind.”
In any case, Thaksin can take heart that his party remains the most popular with 46% of support, as opposed to the Democrats’ 40%, in a Suan Dusit poll over the weekend. Even if there is a political hiatus for him, he can still work “behind the scenes” as long as TRT wins, while biding his time for his political resurrection.
Understandably, the TRT is taking no chances with its future with or without Thaksin at the helm. TRT deputy leader Pongthep Thepkanchana said that the party “wanted to continue its reconciliation efforts with other parties as it would lead to smooth political reforms after the election” and talks with Banharn would go on as scheduled.
Opposition party sweeps Bangkok election (Bangkok Post, 24 July 2006)
PM quiet on political plans (Bangkok Post, 24 July 2006)
Decree does not legitimise Thaksin (Bangkok Post, 24 July 2006)
Three crucial questions remain (Bangkok Post, 24 July 2006)
Date is set, but expect turmoil to continue (The Nation, 24 July 2006)
'My decision is made' (The Nation, 24 July 2006)
Decree gives balance of power to PM (Bangkok Post, 23 July 2006)
PM will go, and then return, say astrologers (Bangkok Post, 23 July 2006)
Abhisit calls for appointment of new EC (The Nation, 23 July 2006)
Supreme Court judge says there still time to mare preparations for fair poll (The Nation, 23 July 2006)
Poll: Invite Abhisit to dinner date (The Nation, 23 July 2006)
Thai King orders October elections (ABC Online, 22 July 2006)