What is the real cause of the current political conflict?
You have to understand that the political powers are now shifting from the so-called aristocracy to electoral politics, which has been active at all levels, from rural administrative organisations up to the national level. This power shift has had a huge impact and has led to attempts to resist it. This is going to continue for years.
Is former premier Thaksin Shinawatra a catalyst in the shift of power?
He is a catalyst for the shift of power towards one side. It's due to his massive wealth, personal popularity and his cleverness in using the media for his interests. This is coupled with the Democrat Party's problem of weakness in adapting its structure to become a modern political party. Its structure is conservative mixed with bureaucracy.
The politicians in power are now enjoying a lopsided power; the administration has a lot of power. The problem is they think that having this power is the ultimate stage in democratic development, which is not true. It's just the beginning. So the administration doesn't want to allow any scrutiny or checks and balances.
It appears nobody is able to stop Thaksin now
When he first came to power, Thaksin would not have imagined the power shifting so rapidly. If you can recall the first year after winning his first election, he struggled to bring in other political parties in forming a coalition government. Thaksin at that time was not as aggressive in his bargaining. He was not even sure if he could form a coalition government. Some time after that, he changed a lot. He became so confident that he announced his ambition to stay in power for 20 years. It's clear that he now saw the power was in his hands. He became highly popular while his rivals were dwindling and weakening. Some people told me that if the situation doesn't get worse, Thaksin is likely to return as prime minister within two years. In other countries, former leaders who lost their power were able to make a comeback, such as Italy and Peru. It may not be as easy in Thaksin's case because he will first have to win some court battles.
Will the rapid power shift lead to confrontation?
Certainly. When so much power is being shifted into the hands of the administration, there will be more and more counterattacks from groups that want to scrutinise them. The administrative branch is being scrutinised through the Constitution and the judicial branch. But the administration is upset and is trying to pressure for the scrutiny to end or ease off. We have to be prepared. When there is a power shift, there will be confrontation and clashes. Highly respected institutions are cited and various factors are mobilised in a bid to defeat the opposite side.
How will the conflict end?
The worst scenario is a coup, which is something we don't want to see. But the current situation is pointing that way. If all the parties involved don't want to budge, particularly if the politicians in power try to intervene in the judicial process against Thaksin, the conflict will spill onto the streets. There will be confrontation and violent clashes. But unlike the previous coup on September 19, 2006, the military will wait until there is a bloodbath before they move. I heard some senior generals say: "This time we should let them clash for a while and allow bloodshed to happen. Then we will come out." But, if there is a military coup again, there will be a more serious crisis. This time, things are far more serious than the last time.