Are there actually paid demonstrators
sueddeutsche.de: His adversary - the former Prime Minister Thaksin was deposed by the military in September 2006 and had to flee. Since then, mass protests have been almost the order of the day in Thailand. What is his role in the conflict?
Bünte: Thaksin is one of the richest men in the country and tries to influence Thai politics from his exile. For example, the protesters are paid people from Thaksin. Farmers who work in their fields don't have time to demonstrate. Thaksin can steer the crowds behind the scenes with his friends and acquaintances. The surrender of the Reds will certainly have been ordered by him too. He wants to return to Thailand and to power. At the same time, in the course of the coup, $ 76 million was confiscated from him, which he wants back. But that is not possible. If he returned, he would have to go to jail.
sueddeutsche.de: He was sentenced to two years in prison for corruption. Why is it still so popular among farmers?
Bünte: During his reign from 2001 to 2006 he set up numerous programs for the development and debt relief of the villages. Indeed, it was the first time that farmers saw themselves at the center of politics. The previously ruling elite from politics and the military had neglected this for decades.
sueddeutsche.de: Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is above politics. He has been in power since 1946. Couldn't he end the crisis with a word of power?
Bünte: The king is part of the elite conflict. If he said something, it would probably be quiet. But we know very little what the king actually supports and what does not. He is instrumentalized from many sides. Its power is largely based on its popularity. But Thaksin has grown hugely popular over the past five years. That weakened the role of the king.
sueddeutsche.de: Is there a solution to the current conflict?
Bünte: It will be very difficult. Both power groups would have to find a compromise. It could look like this: Thaksin returns and is pardoned. In return, he foregoing part of his assets and retires as a private citizen. But that goes against the interests of everyone involved. There would be demonstrations again immediately, as Thaksin will not forego his money and the yellow ones demonize Thaksin because they fear his return. You draw comparisons with Hitler and speak of him as an inhuman dictator. So the protests will continue.
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