Thailand is no longer synonymous again with simply being a tourist's "playground." Political protests have become increasingly a part of the scenery in recent years.
It is a similar scenario as with other "Third World" nations: An overall class struggle pitting the elite/upper-middle class against the lower-middle class/working class/peasants/poor. Too few against too many because too few have too much at the expense of too many who have too little.
Specifically, the political "players" in the struggle for Thailand are the following: the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), known as Red Shirts; the Democrat Party, known as Yellow shirts; the Monarchy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (actually, a sideline "player," but still looked to for decision-making); the military; the police; the political leadership; and foreign interference.
The spark that lit the "flame" for the latest protests in recent Thai history occurred in 2006, when a military coup overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Since 2008, Thaksin has been in exile, living in Dubai. Thaksin has made a career out of being a tycoon, and has been accused of corruption while prime minister of Thailand. He's also been called a royalist. This seems contradictory, given that he implemented actual political and economic reforms as prime minister that benefitted the common people; and in turn contradicted the class interests of the monarchy/elite.
Thaksin is a huge "piece" in a chaotic puzzle. He is supported by the UDD for his reforms.
The UDD states in its Six Principles that the King would be the head of state if the UDD succeeds in its number one objective: "To attain true democracy with sovereignty in the hands of the people of Thailand." But true democracy wouldn't include monarchial power within its nature. At this current stage, however, most Thais habitually favor the King.
King Bhumibol has become an emperor with no clothes. He has been seen as unreliable in his role as a monarch, reflecting the behavior of other monarchs in the feudal past where absolute power tends to keep royalty out of touch with reality. And the elite and military have played significant roles relating to the King's actions or inactions.
The latest protests have resulted from a proposed amnesty law which the Yellow Shirts-led by the conservative Democrat Party-condemn because it would provide an opportunity for Thaksin to return to Thailand. Ironically, Red Shirts have also opposed the law because it would mean granting amnesty to military leaders involved with the killing of other Red Shirt members in the bloody crackdown of the 2010 protests.
In the middle of all this now is Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister. Yingluck and the ruling Puea Thai Party have tried to propose a plan where the Thai Senate would be fully elected, rather than maintaining the current status of the senate where 73 of the 150 senators-almost 50%-are appointed. Yellow Shirts also oppose her because this plan would threaten the conservatives' power. And Red Shirts have criticized her for not yet reforming lese-majeste, where it is a crime to insult the royal family.
It all comes back to Thaksin Shinawatra. His influence has won the support of the common people. While in power, Thaksin's social reforms included universal healthcare and suspending farmers' debts. For that, and the allegations of corruption, he has "won" the enmity of the elite and bourgeoisie.
Once known as an "Asian Tiger" because of its impressive economic output in the early 1990s, Thailand became a "basketcase"-along with other nations-in the late 1990s fueled by imposed policies of international financial entities like the International Monetary Fund. It was Thaksin who put a stop to it. But, the characteristic "Third World" military coup took place in 2006.
Thailand has shown the latest example of what happens when class lines are widely drawn, i.e, the few have too much at the expense of the many who wind up having too little. As long as this continues, protests from the common masses will inevitably continue.
© 2013 David Starr
 T.J., "Bubbling Over." The Economist, 11/26/2013. www.economist.com
 Ji Ungpakorn, Giles, "Thailand: Behind the latest Reactionary 'Yellow Shirt' Protest." LINKS: international journal of socialist renewal. http://links.org.au, 11/24/2013
 http://thairedshirts.org, "The Six Principles."
 Ji Ungpakorn, Giles, "Thailand: Behind the latest Reactionary 'Yellow Shirt' Protest." LINKS: international journal of socialist renewal. http://links.org, 11/24/2013
 http://thairedshirts.org, "Our History."
 http://www.abcnews.net.au, "Bangkok Tense as 100,000 Protesters Rally..." 11/25/2013
 http://www.aljazeera.com, "Thai Red Shirts Stage Mass Protests." 06/25/2012
 Bello, Walden, "The Battle for Thailand." 06/02/2010. http://www.counterpunch.org