The withering of Thailand's democracy is closing potential avenues for political resolution of the country's ongoing crisis and may lead toward widespread violence, and possibly even an armed revolt.
The latest episode in this ongoing, self-destructive process was the Constitutional Court's decision on Nov. 29 to dismiss a case against the ruling Democrat Party -- which had been accused of electoral fraud -- on a technicality. In ruling that the case was not brought within the prescribed time period, the court declined to consider the merits or the opinion of the prosecutor. The party risked being dissolved in the event of a conviction.
The ruling is problematic, but not surprising. The Thai legal system has a history of siding with the party in power. In many respects, this latest ruling recalls one that cleared former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on charges of asset concealment in 2001. At the time, the freshly elected Thaksin was acquitted despite convincing evidence that he and his wife had hid huge amount of his Shin Corporation shares with nominees' accounts.