The parliamentary motion to amend the constitution was always going to fail.
One third of the senators were never going to vote against their own interest and pass a motion that could’ve seen the body get dissolved. The ruling coalition were also going to pull out all the stops to halt or delay the proceedings – which they did in spectacular fashion.
What this means is that the next election will likely be contested under the current constitution giving the advantage once again to Prayut Chan-ocha and his cohorts. The military-appointed senators will remain in place, the coalition will likely remain intact, and the prime minister will once again be selected by less-than-democratic means.
The opposition parties and the pro-democracy movement now stand at a crossroads.
They can try to escalate street protests once again and try to drive the Prayut government out of power through popular protests. But doing so requires that they broaden the umbrella and bring in disparate groups who are united against this administration. That likely means drop their calls to reform the monarchy and make less esoteric demands especially in regards to communism and modes of governance.
It also means the student protesters will have to reach out to groups left behind by the government’s economic policies. There are plenty in that regard. Farmers, hospitality workers, manufacturing workers are all unemployed or underemployed and have struggled to make ends meet due to the government’s Covid-19 policies.
So far, the protesters look unable to reach out to other groups outside of their immediate circle to broaden their appeal. It looks like they do not care to either.
The other options that the opposition has is to regroup and actually work together to contest the elections despite the uneven footing.
Many decisions hampered the opposition before the last election including the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party and the cloud of judgement hanging over the Future Forward Party.
Hopefully they will have learned from past mistake and both Pheu Thai and Move Forward will work together more closely to contest the election.
While the playing field is not level, it does not mean that the coalition is invulnerable. The Democrat Party are done. If the opposition could find in-roads into the strongholds that BJT and Palang Pracharath hold then there is an opportunity to win by a large enough landslide to nullify the senate.
It is not an easy road but the alternative is even less likely. What happened on Wednesday shows that the constitution will never be amendment as long as the senate remains. The road to fix the charter through parliament is filled with roadblocks and impossible hurdles.
Whatever path the opposition chooses to take, they must be decisive and quick.