New week, new hopes

Reds seem to have impressed everyone with their Saturday march through Bangkok. The mood in the city has clearly changed. Some 80% want negotiations as a way to solve the impasse.

First – the show of force. Reds clearly have a lot of support in the city, but just how much? If you were a red supporter and they were passing through your neighborhood you’d surely go outside and greet them, with any sign of red affiliation you can find. But think of the non-reds – how many were in the same area but stayed inside? Anyone counted them?

I’d say there was probably a million people living along the red route, or something in that ball park. Did even a hundred thousand came out to greet the reds? I seriously doubt so, and that would be a ten to one ratio in favor of non-reds.

On a polling day PTP would be probably close to Democrats, losing or winning by some five seats in Bangkok, out of total 36 (need to check new elections zones, though).

Second – negotiations themselves. Abhisit took the lead on that one, catching red leaders off guard. On the first day Abhisit sounded the idea and reds responded, Thaksin slammed the mediator. That didn’t stop Abhisit, and, with vast majority of people calling for talks it is inevitable reds will be drawn to negotiating table one way or another.

Last week Abhisit seemingly had a plan – force the reds to talk about democracy, addressing their needs, solving country’s problems etc, leaving Thaksin out in the cold. After Saturday the situation has somewhat changed, reds can now put out their own demands, and that’s where Abhisit will have to adjust.

So far he wants to send his emissaries to sound out the possible framework and pre-conditions. Reds so far rejected them and they want to talk only to Abhisit himself. At one point they were saying they would talk to him only after the House dissolution. Yeah, why didn’t they also ask him to change into prison garbs, handcuff himself, and do a “perp” walk on the red stage while he was at it.

Lately they apparently changed the tune, House dissolution is the goal now, not a pre-condition. That’s promising, but that’s still not what Abhisit wanted and that’s where he can press them for reasons and their hidden agenda.

He can rightly claim that their publicly stated goals like war on ammart or class struggle or double standards have nothing to do with elections. He is willing to address those issues and let reds present their argument how House dissolution can help to solve them.

Reds are not going to talk democracy, however, one reason is they don’t know what to say, another reason is that Thaksin won’t let them. On that point Abhisit was adamant – Thaksin can’t be a part of this in any shape or form. Abhisit stated that even before the red rally, I think, not sure about the date, when asked about Thaksin he said: “Personalities not important, we have to solve issues.”

There are many variables that can completely change the course of the talks, it would be a waste of time trying to predict how it would go and whether reds can get their elections any time soon, and that’s a whole another story – what actually matters in Thai politics when it comes to people.

Reds, essentially, waltzed their way to the negotiating table. They got the talks because they can sing and dance, not because they make appealing arguments. That’s a typical Thai way of wooing support – dance, eat, and sing your way into people’s hearts, then they give you a blank check and would support any nonsensical idea you want, just because you are a good guy.

Not sure how much sway it would hold over Abhisit, though. Running the country and solving long standing problems, including those mentioned by reds, cannot be done by dancing alone. They must present ideas and strategies and clear ways to implement them, and if House dissolution would be necessary, I believe Abhisit will consent.

On a side note, but this is important. I see many commentators look up Abhisit’s earlier quotes calling for House dissolution and contrast them with his present stand. It’s all very well, but he was a leader of the opposition party then and dissolution is a matter of the parliament.

Current opposition does not want the elections, only red talkers on the stage do. They are not going to run themselves, their representatives in parliament don’t want to run either. What’s Abhisit supposed to answer to that? Why should he agree to something even the opposition doesn’t want him to do? Why don’t the reds talk to their MPs first and get them on their side?

PTP, on their part, has been caught off guard, too. First Jatuporn and Veera asked them to resign. They were appalled, even Jatuporn, an elected MP, had to backtrack on that (“Jeez, look at the crap flying out of my mouth sometimes!”) Then some of them found a better solution: “We better just refuse to work”. That way they get to keep their salaries instead of sponsoring by-elections if they resign. No one asked for a House dissolution yet.

The Senate is now asking for a general debate on the situation, that would take about a week to organize, reds will have a new walkabout on the weekend, and it’s impossible to predict what the mood will be then. Maybe people get tired of their dancing, maybe they’ll love it. One thing is sure – it would have nothing to do with red/Democrat agenda itself.

Dancing and singing is not Abhisit’s forte, arguing and debating is not what the reds are strong at but that’s what is necessary for a lasting solution.

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One Response

  1. Just watched this video, about people being paid to greet the red caravan on Saturday, at the Mall Ram.

    What is striking is that how many people didn’t even look at the passing reds.

    They didn’t post these kind of pictures pictures even at the Nation.

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