Looking at the size of pro and Anti Thaksin mobs tells a lot about how people feel. When you start to consider all the factors like people being paid to attend pro Thaksin rallies with some of them being Cambodian just to pump up the size and psychological impact, you start to see much of this as being a mind game.
Going back to the start of the pro and anti Thaksin rallies, we must go back to the second half of 2005. The first rallies were the Yellow Shirt rallies before they even became the Yellow Shirts. They were at Lumphini park and the first rally only attracted about 4000 people. The fuel for that rally was Thaksin’s level of corruption was so much, he could no longer keep it below the surface and more and more of it started appearing for all to see.
Those rallies grew in size every week until they were about 30,000 people every week. Now Thaksin did not like this and he dispatched thugs to go and cause violence in those rallies. However as November and December came around the rallies started running out of fuel and the size dwindled. That was until Thaksin’s greed got the best of him and the Shin communication satellite deal that took place in the first few days of 2006 re-energized the Anti Thaksin rallies.
Those rallies continued to grow in size and popularity as many saw Thaksin as selling some of Thailand’s sovereignty for personal gain. By the end of March 2006 those weekly rallies were packing in between 50,000 and 60,000 people. They became a point of entertainment and many of Thailand’s more famous entertainers found their way to the rally stage to do their thing and entertain the crowds.
Then Thaksin pulled not one but two counter moves that backfired. In the start of April 2006 he dissolved Parliament and called a snap election. However just like everything else about Thaksin that election was rigged, and ultimately nullified by the court thus setting the stage for Thaksin’s own party visit with the executioner. The second thing Thaksin did was announce he was resigning, but never really did. He disappeared from sight for 1 month then came back properly pissing off the mobs.
From then on until the September 19, 2006 Coup that finally got Thaksin out, there was increased violence being despatched by Thaksin onto the otherwise peaceful mob.
After Thaksin’s ouster there was the start of a new group of pro Thaksin protesters that eventually became to be known as the Red Shirts. The difference was they were more or less on Thaksin’s payroll. The anti Thaksin protesters came because their heart was in their country and saw Thaksin for what he truly was.
From this point on the size of the rallies had a lot to say about how much muscle each side had. The primary difference was the Anti Thaksin rallies by whoever were peaceful and orderly. However the pro Thaksin rallies namely the Red Shirts were prone to violence and had no problem at all in setting Bangkok ablaze. The biggest of the pro Thaksin rallies hit about 85,000 people at any one rally. It seemed the only person in Thailand who could break the magic 100,000 number was the King when he gave public audience on birthday speeches.
However fast forward to 2013 and the trend has changed. As Thaksin is only for Thaksin and he uses people, he lost a significant amount of support when the blanket Amnesty bill was forced down the throats of the Thai people. Needless to say with roughly 90% of Thais rejecting the bill for one reason or another, that bill opened many of their eyes as to what Thaksin was all about. After that the rally numbers became very different.
Based on independent observation by the media namely the Bangkok Post and not relying on some bias statistic by some Thai official, they concluded the Anti Thaksin rally that took place on September 24, 2013 had between 387,050 and 446,250. That number matches the rally leaders claim that 440,000 numbered stickers were handed out to people who attended the rally.
Clearly the Bangkok Post reconnaissance was more accurate than what was being reported or not reported by pro Thaksin media. Keeping in mind these anti Thaksin people did not get paid to attend the rally, however free transportation was made available for people outside of the Bangkok area.
In retrospect the Red Shirt rally across town was having a difficult time making 65,000 people in a stadium that was designed for big crowds and thus more comfortable than hanging out on the street. All things considered just by the numbers, the failed blanket Amnesty bill caused this huge shift in numbers as many Red Shirt supporters felt betrayed by Thaksin. It was their blood in the streets in 2010 and Thaksin simply did not care and displayed a total lack of empathy towards his supporters.
So when you look at this as a whole you see that Thaksin’s popularity has peeked and is now on the decline. Most if not all of that is at his own hand. There is a saying in Thailand that all fatal political wounds are self inflicted, and Thaksin is clearly not immune.