- POSTED: 06 May 2014 17:51
- UPDATED: 06 May 2014 19:29
If found guilty, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be removed from office and it is possible that the country will be left without a functioning government as the entire cabinet could be removed from office along with her.
BANGKOK: The political future of embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be decided on May 7 when the Constitutional Court delivers its verdict on whether she is guilty of abuse of power for appointing her relative as National Police Chief.
The Thai Constitutional Court is an independent court set up to protect rights under the 1997 constitution.
However, critics believe Yingluck's opponents are manipulating the legal system to take down her government and with it the Shinawatra family.
Dr Thitinan Ponsudhirak from Chulalongkorn University explained: "We have seen in Thailand the judiciary, the Constitutional Court in particular, has been seen as not impartial. It has been seen as politically driven, politically motivated and partisan. This court case against Yingluck is really a power play."
If found guilty, Yingluck will be removed from office and it is possible that the country will be left without a functioning government as the entire cabinet could be removed from office along with her, forcing a reshuffle of the Pheu Thai Party (PTP).
The Constitutional Court is the final stage in the case of abuse of power against Yingluck. There is no room for further appeal.
The question is what will happen to Yingluck's party if she is removed from office.
"This decision I believe will not affect the existence of Pheu Thai, even the head of PTP is still around," said Dr Pitch Pongsawat, Associate Dean of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University.
He added: "But if the cabinet has to go out with Yingluck, you still have more to come. You still have the ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat, or you may have a lot of people who is very trustworthy to Thaksin."
The guilty verdict raises another question - will it put an end to the anti-government protests led by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban?
"The pressure will be put on Suthep, but I don't think he will quit the protest that easy. There must be something else coming,” said Dr Pongsawat.
Fresh elections have been set for July 20 but with the Democrats yet to announce whether they will run, and the People's Democratic Reform Committee threatening to block the polls through protests, it is uncertain how democracy in Thailand will proceed.
Dr Ponsudhirak said: "Do we stick to the electoral system which has a popular mandate, which is unpinned by electoral democracy or do we go outside the system which is really unlimited? We can have all kinds of possibilities but going outside the electoral system could elicit more protests and turmoil.”
There may also be more turmoil for Yingluck.
Apart from the Constitutional Court case, she also faces a case by the National Anti-Corruption Commission that could eventually lead to her impeachment and even jail time if it's taken up by the Supreme Court.
This case could take weeks, meaning Yingluck's time in court is far from over.