Here is the paper presented by Chairat Charoensin-o-larn of Thammasat University at the Thailand Update held at the ANU late last month [chairat-2007.pdf]. I think it is a balanced and nuanced account of Thai politics since the coup. Here is an extract from the conclusion:
Politics will only become stable when the political system can accommodate all the important social forces within it. Reconciliatory politics and military coups work against each other. Coups represent the exclusion technique of governance rather than inclusion. The junta will definitely try to isolate the former TRT groups either by forging an alliance with the former opposition parties led by the Democrats or by arranging a realignment of political groups into a new party as an alternative to both the Democrat-led and the former TRT-led parties. The strategies of fragmentation and isolation at best will push the former TRT group into the opposition camp after the general election and at worst will intensify the great political divide in Thai society.
Despite the impact on the changing contours of the Thai political map, the historic verdict of the dissolution of the TRT party and other measures taken by the junta to clean up “bad” politics have left open several spaces for future debates. The end of the TRT party is in no way a guarantee of the Democrats’ rise to power. Neither does it mean a better future for the country and for democracy. People’s high expectations of the coup and the new election will be met with frustration. With the approval of the junta-supported constitution in the referendum on August 19, we can expect a return of the military and the big bureaucrats to the Thai political scene.
The security state and the bureaucratic polity will reemerge on the Thai political map in the forms of coalition government, appointed senators, committee members of independent organizations, and the controversial internal security bill. Elections will not solve the problems the nation faces; they will only serve to convince the world community that Thailand has, once again, a democratic form of government. Unless Thailand is able to design a system of institutionalized conflict management such as a strong and respected parliamentary system that is capable of converting “antagonism” into “agonism,” then the future prospects for democracy in Thailand is still in doubt.