The Thais give insights into co-governance systems and unelected leaders’ push for more power

Well, look you here.

The headline on a bit of something Alf was reading today says The biggest issue: politics are divided between a weak majority and powerful minority

The article (here) deals with shabby events in Thailand where an elected government has been thrown out by a military coup.

Alf is particularly interested in observing that Thailand’s system is described as quasi-democratic.

This is what comes of giving power and authority to appointed people who can’t be bothered standing for election.

The article says:

Probably the most important thing for understanding Thailand’s instability since the country became quasi-democratic in the 1990s is that politics are divided between two factions. The problem is that one of those factions has a lot more followers, meaning it can consistently win elections, but the other faction has an overwhelming share of the actual political power.

Another report – from the New York Times – said it’s the second time in a decade that the army had overthrown an elected government, but there were signs that this takeover could be more severe and include sharp curbs on Thailand’s freewheeling news media.

The coup was seen as a victory for the elites in Thailand who have grown disillusioned with popular democracy and have sought for years to diminish the electoral power of Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who commands support in the rural north. Unable to win elections, the opposition has instead called for an appointed prime minister, and pleaded with the military for months to step in.

We are not there yet, with our co-governance arrangements in NZ.

But the power of our elected bodies has been seriously diluted as we introduce more and more of these power-sharing deals and cravenly buckle to demands for unelected special persons to be given a place at decision-making tables.

A 50:50 share is considered a fair deal under the Treaty of Waitangi.

We have opted for “partnership” rather than democracy.

It should be noted that the first article cited here says:

The mostly-rural, pro-Thaksin majority obviously wants as much as democracy as possible because that helps them. And the establishment minority wants less democracy because that makes it easier for them to hold on to power.

This is why, for example, the late-2013 anti-government protests that played such a big role in sparking the recent coup were calling for a “People’s Council” to replace the democratically elected government. You also saw this happen in 2007, when the parliament passed a constitutional amendment to finally make the Thai Senate fully democratic (currently, about half of the senators are elected and the other half are appointed by a committee of mostly judges; the amendment would have made all senators elected). The political establishment pushed for the constitutional court to reject the amendment, which they got, thus keeping the senate half-appointed and half-elected.

So now we have Thailand’s military (siding with the unelected elite) declaring martial law and further tightening the noose around the remnants of the elected Pheu Thai government.

The Senate — about half of which is not elected, remember, but appointed by the country’s top courts —is pushing for the government to resign.

One appointed senator, Paiboon Nititawan, has asked the Constitutional Court to remove the remaining cabinet members.

Last month, the court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine cabinet members on trumped-up charges of abuse of power. She was replaced by acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.

The Obama administration did not condemn the Constitutional Court’s decisions to annul the February election and remove Yingluck as prime minister.

It will be fascinating to see what the US does when – as seems inevitable – our indigenous people tire of the 50:50 arrangement and press for full control.

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