He [Thaksin] remains the most influential politician in Thailand, where he is adored by the rural poor who benefited from his populist policies. But the educated urban elite largely revile him, judging him corrupt and power-hungry.
The anti-government protesters have demanded a change to Thailand’s Western-style electoral system, which they say Thaksin exploited to buy votes. They instead favor a system in which some representatives are chosen by certain professions and social groups. ~AP
Of course Thaksin exploited this system to buy votes, and it is because he bought votes that he is enormously popular among the people whose votes he bought. That sounds vaguely familiar. The opposition’s alternative electoral system is not something that is proposed very often these days. I don’t think I have heard of middle-class professionals arguing for a quasi-corporatist voting system in a modern democratic state. It is usually the case in democratizing states that urban middle-class voters want to dismantle the institutional privileges granted to established estates and corporations, but the goal of weighting votes and providing votes to representatives of professions is plainly to prevent another demagogue such as Thaksin from prevailing in elections. It remains unclear whether the liberals or the democrats will prevail in Thailand, but for Thailand’s sake we can hope that Thaksin and his party lose.