The protesters obstructed voting in a general election on Feb. 2, plunging the country into political limbo. Election reruns are due to be held today in five of the affected provinces.
Some experts believe that behind the scenes, a fight is playing out to decide who will be in charge of the country when 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s more than six-decade reign eventually ends.
The backdrop is a nearly decade-long struggle between a royalist establishment — backed by the judiciary and the military — and Yingluck’s billionaire family, which has traditionally enjoyed strong support in the northern half of Thailand.
It is the “last gasp” of a political system that has traditionally favored the country’s privileged establishment, Streckfuss said.
“The elite can continue, but if they tie their wagons to this system, which many people feel does need to change, is this the way they want to go down? I wouldn’t think so,” he said.
The government’s Red Shirt supporters, whose own street protests in 2010 triggered a deadly military crackdown that left dozens dead, have warned they are ready to rise up if Yingluck’s administration is toppled by the military or the judiciary.
“Any of the scenarios that remove the caretaker government will be opposed in principle by millions and actively by hundreds of thousands I think,” Streckfuss said.