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Devoted to the Thai King

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-12-02

The PAD’s campaign against the Thai government culminated on Dec. 2 when a constitutional court disbanded the ruling coalition for vote fraud. But the ruling may not be enough to avoid further clashes with government supporters.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)

The PAD was founded in 2005 with the aim to oust then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The movement accused Thaksin of corruption and saw him as a threat to the deeply-respected monarchy.

The PAD was also responsible for the 2006 street protests in Bangkok which ultimately led to a military coup, forcing Thaksin out of power in September 2006.

The anti-government movement resumed its attacks in May 2008 against the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, calling it an illegitimate proxy of Thaksin. Somchai’s party, the People Power Party (PPP), was formed by MPs from Thaksin’s banned Thai Rak Thai party. Somchai, himself Thaksin’s brother-in-law, was seen by protesters as a pawn of the deposed prime minister.

For the PAD, Somchai’s government was “acting like a Trojan horse for Shinawatra,” Human Rights Watch’s Asia Director Brad Adams told FRANCE 24 in a phone interview. Protesters feared that the government may pass a legislation granting amnesty to Thaksin and allow him to return to politics. Adams added that Thaksin himself had been engineering a lot of it to try and return to Thai politics.



Fighting for a Thaksin-free government

PAD has sworn to protest until a Thaksin-free government is formed. They want a new constitution and 70 percent of parliament members to be appointed rather than elected.

However, questions are being raised about the protest movement’s real motives. “When the PAD started out as a protest group, they claimed to be fighting on behalf of the monarchy and for the people,” Adams said.

But the alliance’s disapproval of Thaksin or his allies’ victory in democratic elections has since led some analysts to believe that the PAD no longer represents the people or democracy.


While the PAD enjoys support from a large urban middle-class base including state employees, Thaksin and his allies remain popular among the rural voters, who regard the former leader as someone who fought for their equality.

The PAD accuses the PPP of hostility toward Thailand’s much revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has reigned through 17 military coups and 26 prime ministers. But the king has made no public reference to the troubles so far.
At the same time, “the PAD is slowly losing support because of its conservative stance” says Adams, adding that “it will probably collapse at some point of time.” The PAD tried to draw support from the army, hoping to provoke a military coup. But those efforts have so far proved fruitless.

All six parties in the toppled coalition government vowed to stick together and seek a parliamentary vote for a new prime minister on Dec. 8.


Date created : 2008-12-02