Although it is common knowledge that some protesters at the Anti-Junta Pro-Thaksin rallies are being paid ฿300 baht (about $10 usd) to attend, the enthusiastic support from many protesters seems genuine. The Thaksin supporter pictured here was crying during Thaksin's June 15 speech to supporters.
Thailand’s historical Constitutional Tribunal verdict has just been handed down and it appears that ‘justice’ was based upon the persuasive barrel-of-a-gun commanded by the military dictatorship rather than a step towards resolution to the political crisis.
The Democrat party escaped unharmed while the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party was dealt a death sentence. TRT has been dissolved and their executives barred for five years in politics.
The legal debate whether the judgement was politically motivated will take time to emerge yet the immediate consequences are easier to understand.
The Democrats, whom have mustered a rather ineffectual opposition to the TRT, are now positioned to dominate a politically decimated election landscape. The newspapers are already hailing Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as the next Prime Minister.
The future of the political juggernaut TRT, whom command upwards of 16 million voters, seems final.
The acting leader of TRT, Chaturon Chaisaeng, in an emotionally charged post-verdict statement, claimed that the decision was "unacceptable" and that "The country is now under a dictatorship."
He might have a point.
The junta has been singularly obsessed with erasing former Prime Minster Thaksin’s questionable legacy from Thai politics and the Tribunal’s ruling might be understood as the last nail in the TRT coffin.
Backing the Tribunal’s decision is the up-coming draft constitution. Replacing the popular 1997 ‘people’s constitution’ that the junta resigned to the rubbish bin when seizing power, has been described as decidedly ‘anti-Thaksin’ and a legal way of removing Thaksin and his TRT from political office.
So what about the backlash, particularly the TRT supporters?
That is what everyone is asking. Businesses are planning to close, people are talking about stalking up on food, and rumours that floods of TRT supporters are aiming for Bangkok are ripe.
Tomorrow will be a fresh, and possibly violent, day in Thai politics. A day in which the country’s most popular political party has been dissolved by a military dictatorship and the electorate will come out to express their anger.