Thailand’s military-backed government led by General Prayut Chan-ocha has sent signals to coalition partners that they have survived the worst of anti-government protests and say they are capable of handling all future political challenges.
A briefing by the National Security Council and attended by high-ranking Cabinet members showed that student protest numbers have been decreasing with each subsequent rally.
According to the NSC, recent rallies have seen at most 10-15,000 protesters.
This is opposed to earlier rallies like the one at Sanam Luang two months prior which saw nearly 100,000 people attend, according to Thai Enquirer figures.
Thairath Newspaper said that Prayut was in good spirits after having attended the meeting. According to sources within the ruling coalition, the government has told its coalition partners that they have successfully weathered the worst of the movement and that they did not expect any significant challenges to its power up to the new year.
“The government thinks it has survived the pro-democracy movement and that the opposition parties do not hold enough sway to force through significant constitutional changes in parliament,” said a Democrat MP who asked to not be named. “That means the constitutional amendment process would likely take some time with a referendum probably in the third quarter of 2021.
Part of the reason for the lowered protest numbers has been infighting within the student protest camp. Although the students maintain that the protest leadership is united in their fight against the military and in calling for reform of the institution, there has been increasingly leaked rumours that various student groups see different routes to success – including postponing talks of reforming the monarchy to focus on bringing down the Prayut government.
The fractured leadership has led to multiple protests called in different locations, sometimes on the same day, leading to lowered numbers and protest fatigue for demonstrators.
The arrest of many student-leaders and prolonged incarceration of the demonstrators has also led to disjointed strategy and ad-hoc protests.
“Unless the students can regain the momentum they had before the arrests after the October 14 protests, this movement will not trouble the government in the slightest,” said political analyst Arun Saronchai. “That means there is no pressure on the court to remove the prime minister from office on December 2.