These days, many people are closely watching the steps that Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats, will take. This is because the party seems to be taking a totally different course from its rival, the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
On the other hand, the opposition party is doing all it can by whatever means to overthrow the Yingluck administration. Its efforts have reached the point where many observers simply shake their heads in disapproval at some of the party’s actions, which have been deemed as overstepping democratic behaviour.
Former Democrat leader Chuan Leekpai once famously said, back in 1992: “I believe in the parliamentary system.”
Today, there are people who mock that remark, saying the party is no longer following that path because of claims that some key party figures are now colluding with various groups such as the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy in a bid to overthrow the government via extra-parliamentary means.
This fits the red-shirt leaders’ repeated claim that the Democrat Party does not play by the rules, such as the time when Abhisit Vejjajiva’s cabinet was arranged inside a military barracks and its dependency on the so-called independent state agencies and the Army to oust Thaksin-led governments.
Some of these allegations were even admitted to be true by key figures within the Democrat Party.
While it seems the party has no way of gaining more seats in Parliament than Pheu Thai, the Democrats ought to try to come up with a new strategy.
Deputy party leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot has a theory that the Democrats are like a frog trapped in slowly boiling water. However, reforms he proposed have been rejected by party heavyweights.
The party also lacks a catchy motto that could energise voters like that of the Pheu Thai – “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts”, or “Rethink and re-do” by the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai, Thaksin’s initial political entity.
Instead, the Democrats seem trapped in the old game of mud-slinging, daily pedantic verbal retaliation and harsh verbal comments made on social media. Its Blue Sky satellite TV channel, meanwhile, repeatedly attacks Thaksin and the red shirts without offering anything new to convince the non-converted.
Filibusters, including irrational protests during parliamentary deliberation, that drag on overnight have also left people fed up and not wanting to follow the debate. The Democrats also rejected all alternatives offered by opponents including the latest political reform forum, even though they could gain political points from the public if they just listened to what the government has to offer – and pull out when it’s obvious that it’s not going to work.
Their attitude – being too eager to get what they want – could hurt the party if they don’t get what they want, and end up alienating supporters who are not partisan fans. Their actions seem like a nagging child who cries loudly without caring when his or her parents refuse to buy a toy.
The party ought to reform, if possible, before it’s too late, and its chances in the next election disappear.