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IN DENIAL

The political crisis in Thailand just got deeper. Thailandís National Anti-Corruption Commission has ruled that 308 members of parliament from both the upper and the lower Houses have acted in contravention of the 2007 constitution by attempting to make the upper House of Parliament a completely elected body. Since most of the MPs indicted by the NACC belong to the Pheu Thai Party, the verdict has thrown the party, which is running the caretaker government, into a quandary. The MPs cannot function till they are cleared by the senate, a matter that could take months and could end in a temporary or permanent ban on them. This means that the Pheu Thai Party has most of its MPs, whom it had re-nominated for running in the February election, rendered non-functional. The party also does not have the option of replacing them with fresh faces because that could be seen as the partyís way of abandoning them and trigger a revolt within the party. The Red Shirt protestors see the ruling as a shot in the arm, and it well may be. The judiciary and the law enforcement bodies in Thailand have a fair share of anti-Thaksin elements who could be doing their bit to throw a spanner in the works of the Pheu Thai Party, which is seen to be running a puppet regime for Thailandís former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Whatever may have or may be prompting the constitutional court of Thailand or the NACC in their rulings, there is no doubt that the legal hurdles before the Pheu Thai Party could mean the fall of government and a postponement of the February elections. That can only be interpreted as a snub to democracy because the replacement that the Opposition, the Democrat Party, has in mind is an unelected peopleís council, the composition of which, dictated by the Bangkok elites, is bound to be anything but inclusive. The Democrat Party intends to deny the Shinawatras any advantage they may lay claim to through what is believed to be their vote-buying capacity. But with half the country gunning for the Pheu Thai Party, there is little that the Opposition can do to stave off the Shinawatras, who have won every election since 2001, other than deny the country democracy altogether.