The Thai parliament is often accused of being dysfunctional and lacking in democratic spirit. So what does this say about the US Congress, which this week forced a partial government shutdown by failing to agree on a budget for federal agencies to operate?
It fuelled the belief that constant political disruption threatens to make the US ungovernable. If this political stalemate is not broken by Oct 17, when Congressional approval of an increase in the debt ceiling becomes necessary, there will be an economic crisis. While calmer heads are expected to prevail to avoid a catastrophic debt default, this continuing game of brinkmanship is making the world nervous.
Only once have Thai lawmakers held an administration hostage by making vague threats to reject its budget in all three readings. The then-military government reacted by staging a bizarre coup against itself and then ruling by decree. Parliament was dissolved, the constitution abrogated and the MPs sent back to their provinces. But that was in 1971 and nowadays, if there is a dispute over aspects of a budget bill or constitutional amendment, the issue can easily be submitted to the Constitution Court for a legal ruling.
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