The street protests of October 1973 and May 1992 taught a lesson to the authorities: harsh handling of protests could jeopardise the situation and easily result in the collapse of the government. Political analysts can now see in their crystal balls that a crackdown is what the PAD is looking for.
An earlier idea to enforce the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Law is not the right option for the government. The laws are too tough.
The current political situation hangs on the balance of the legitimacy between the government and the PAD. Any wrong move by either side could shift the legitimacy from one to the other.
Basically, the government holds the legitimacy since it obtained the people's mandate from the election. Dissolution of an elected government involves a clear procedure in accordance with the Constitution.
The PAD and other street protests enjoy their right of assembly as guaranteed by the Constitution, but the legitimacy to call for the government to step down can only occur when a Cabinet fails in its duty to run the country, is involved in corruption or has committed an immoral act.
Using force against unarmed people is deemed politically immoral.
Thousands of people led by the PAD street protest on Rajdamnoen Avenue since May 25 have no solid proof the government has done anything wrong.
At first they demanded the government not to amend the military-sponsored Constitution, but as Prime Minister Samak prepared to call a referendum on the amendment, the protestors quickly shifted their aim to toppling the government, calling for Samak to step down - or to dissolve Parliament.
Calling a street protest to topple the coalition without solid allegations has no legitimacy.
The government can retain its full legitimacy as long as it shows restraint and allows the PAD to exercise its constitutional right of assembly. The legitimacy could shift to the PAD if the government uses violence against the protesters.
Hot head Prime Minister Samak likely got the point as he junked the plan to crack down on the protestors on Saturday and proposed a negotiation on Sunday.
The authorities have now adjusted their tactics to use public sentiment to gain more legitimacy when it began to shift the blame of traffic congestion on to the PAD, which is blocking the royal route along Rajdamnoen Avenue. The government has also tried to claim the blockade was affect innocent school children trying to get to their schools nearby. Even the boxers at Rajdamnoen stadium complained the protest had barred their fans from seeing them fight.
Key members of the ruling party and ministers are queuing up to express concerns that the protest could hurt the fragile economy. Protest and political instability has repercussions for the economy.
Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Suebwonglee said, and was widely quoted by the international media, that the stock market was down due to the street protests.
Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, on a European tour to explain the political stance, painted the street protests as irrational.
The government respects the basic right of the people to gather for political expression but a protest aimed at toppling the elected government is abnormal, he said.
The PAD doesn't appear to have noticed the government's new tactics. It has built a new and larger stage as well as barbed wire fences, as if preparing to defend themselves from a violent strike. They also announced they would block more roads near the United Nations building for their own safety from road accidents.
Such action has opened a loophole for the government to use psychological warfare to create pubic sentiment against the protesters who care little about the public's interest.
Using this tactics, even a downpour can defeat the protesters, Samak said.