Now what?

A court in Thailand has ruled that the current government be dissolved.

Thailand’s already turbulent political landscape was thrown into further turmoil Tuesday when the Constitutional Court dissolved the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and two of its coalition partners for electoral fraud. As the verdict was read that the government leadership, including the current prime minister, would step down, anti-government protesters occupying Bangkok’s two main airports erupted into cheers and waived Thai flags. Red-shirted government supporters, who had gathered outside the court building to try and prevent the proceedings, dismissed the decision as a judicial coup d’etat.

The decisions spell the end of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s brief term in power, as he is one of the 35-member executive board of the ruling People Power Party. Executive board members are banned from politics for five years as a result of the decision. Somchai said that he accepted the court’s call for him to step down shortly after the verdict was announced; the ruling coalition, however, should remain largely intact. Regular members of the three parties – the People Power Party, Chart Thai Party and Matchima Thipithai Party – have 60 days to join another political party. PPP members were already preparing to migrate to the newly formed Puea Thai Party, and other parties have been set up to accommodate members of Chart Thai and Matchima Thipathai. In total, 109 lawmakers were banned.

As Bangkok’s two airports remain closed, the country begins to feel the effect.

The airport closure has blocked all commercial flights in and out of the capital, forcing thousands to cancel vacations during the peak tourist season and halting vital postal air services, such as the delivery of specialized medicines.

Kongrit Hiranyakit, head of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said more than 300,000 travelers were stranded in Thailand, with 35,000 to 45,000 being added each day the airports remained closed.

An unpopular government was overthrown, but was it a win for democracy? A change of rulers by anything but a up or down vote, leaves the new government with the problem of legitimacy. Of greater long term concern is the picture this paints of the country. That it is unstable. Foreign investors rarely like to put their money in countries where the government is less than solid for the fear that their investment could be swept away along with the government.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy won in court today. Now what will they do with it?

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