Opinion: Democrat’s Faustian bargain ends as many predicted it would

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In German folklore, Faust was the protagonist of an eponymous tale where he traded his soul with the devil for the chance to experience all the worldly pleasures. There are many parallels to Thailand’s Democrat Party which traded in its political soul to join the military-backed government of Prayut Chan-ocha and be part of the ruling coalition.

They did so despite promising in the run-up to elections that they would not join the Prayut coalition, they did so by betraying the trust of their electorate.

And for the momentary glimpse of the power, their political soul is gone.

The best and brightest of the younger leaders have left the party, disillusioned by the lack of moral fiber and any political ideology on the part of leaders such as Chuan Leekpai and Jurin Laksanawisit.

And now, following this weekend’s run-off election, the devil has also come to collect.

The ruling, military-backed party Palang Pracharath decided that it would also contest the election in Nakhon Sri Thammarat which has typically been a Democrat Party stronghold.

Despite Democrat Party protestation that coalition partners should not compete against one another, and several leaks by the DP to the press that PPRP were not playing fair during the election, the ruling party ran their candidate anyway. And they won.

PPRP’s victory in the province points to several shifts in Thai politics worth watching.

The first, and perhaps most notable, is that the PPRP have become the party of choice for Thailand’s conservative voices. After all, why vote for a military proxy like the Democrat Party when one can vote for the military itself.

Second, the PPRP cares not for the members of the coalition when its own self interest is at stake. There is an increasing perception within parliament that the ruling party does not care for the niceties of party politics and would be willing to forge ahead at the expense of its allies if it sees a potential opening to shore up its power. The decision to run a candidate in the by-election is clear indication that Prawit Wongsuwan and PPRP leadership simply do not care for the opinions and concerns of their coalition partners because they believe their political position is unassailable.

Finally, the results this weekend shows what a shadow of its former self the Democrat Party has become.

By selling its soul to the ruling party and joining with the one-time coup-leaders the Democrats no longer have any leg to stand on. They should probably change their name as well. The Democrats say they joined the coalition to change the constitution but there has not been any movement on that, if anything there will likely be further delays and the government will see out the full term under the current charter.

The cowards in charge of the Democrat Party knew exactly what they were doing when they entered the party into the coalition. In exchange for a little power, the Democrats have lost all electability, integrity, and sympathy the public might feel for them.

Sunday’s result has hastened their demise. No one will shed a tear. Good riddance.

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