Wirlwind weekend

Things have really moved along in these past two days and the only certain thing was that no one was in full control and everybody had to go with the flow. Perhaps Phra Siam Devatiraj was directing the show, or maybe it was destiny, or something like that.

First, reds came up with a brilliant plan – if Abhisit doesn’t listen to them, they’ll apply pressure on the army. Suthep tried to downplay the situation but on Sunday morning generals told Abhisit to sort it out himself as their soldiers couldn’t take it anymore, and they were probably sincere.

Abhisit quickly gave in and agreed to talk and reds had no other choice but to accept. They thought they bagged it but Abhisit had his agenda all lined up already and that floored them as soon as he opened his mouth. While the back and forth argument is considered as a draw or a stalemate, look at the bigger picture – Abhisit had forced them to play by his rules and stripped them of the only power they had – a hundred thousand people on the streets.

The first thing Abhisit said was that he represents the government of all Thais and red shirts are only a subgroup with grievances that he has to address on behalf of the whole country. Veera swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Jatuporn went along and Weng was left in a minority in his own camp.

Now the reds had to accept that they are working together to find solutions for the common benefit, not just red shirts alone. Having accepted this position they can’t just stand up and tell Abhisit to do as they say because they’ve got a huge mob on the street.

Now they have to talk democracy and argue with logic and reason and show how their proposals would actually work. There’s a reason Thaksin rejected “democracy” talks earlier.

Even worse, reds have tacitly accepted Abhisit’s legitimacy as the leader of the country and had to address him as “Than Nayok”.

Now they can’t use their crowd advantage at all as there’s truce during the talks, and they can’t call Abhisit a Hitler or a “skirt wearing puppet of the old homo” in public anymore.

They also had to ditch all talk about prais, ammarts, double standards and class wars. Despite Weng’s best attempts, it all quickly boiled down to House dissolution and constitution. At one point Jatuporn even had to shush Weng, according to Tulsathit’s tweets.

Jatuporn tried to reassert himself a couple of times with “So will you dissolve the House or not?” but was largely ignored. His last demand (“two weeks or else”), made when people were practically leaving was left unanswered. The fact that he received an SMS before stating that was not left unnoticed either.

Abhisit scored another huge advantage when he got the permission to go to Brunei. On the surface it’s nothing, but reds had to acknowledge that he has a country to run and they have to respect that fact. No more “Abhisit awk pai”, there are more important priorities for Thailand.

Thaksin, on his part, had no choice but to accept the talks, too. He railed against ammart and Abhisit but it is out of his hands now – Abhisit made sure his interests will not be part of the negotiations.

Do reds realise they had been outmanuevered? Probably yes, we might see them changing their stance completely today, but, once they’ve made a pledge to play by Abhisit’s rules, it won’t go down well with the public.

They would probably ask for behind the doors meeting or try to divert the discussion on broader issues of the military, coup, ammarts and so on. The current agenda, constitution vs elections, is not going to bring them anything even if they “win” as they have conceded to Abhisit preconditions for holding elections already, like free, unhindered campaign for all parties in every part of the country, and they will have to accept it if PTP gets dissolved again – that’s why Abhisit tells them to amend the rules first.

If reds continue to play along they would probably be forced to accept referendum on constitution immediately followed by new elections. It was only partly touched on yesterday, but Abhisit can make it a lot clearer later on – it’s silly to hold elections to change the rules so that we have new elections again. There’s a country to be governed, remember, reds have accepted that already.

A quick referendum followed by House dissolution would still be a win for the reds and for the country at large, but chances of them getting 1997 constitution back are slim to none, I believe it’s not even legally possible, and if they lose all change points in the referendum they would have to start all over again.

So, to sum it up, reds must find a stronger position to negotiate but that might cost them public opinion, if they continue in the same vein they might win but the victory would be meaningless.

To me, Veera appeared so impressed by Abhisit that he was about to cry at one point. He might even run under the Democrat banner. Jatuporn realised he had been robbed but it was too late. Weng was their strongest speaker but the agenda had already changed.

Let’s see how it goes today.

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One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nkoleszar, Dr. Will. Dr. Will said: Excellent analysis of yesterday's talks by StanG [blog] http://tinyurl.com/yjjs6c6 […]

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