Sunday, February 2, 2014

Political Crisis in Thailand: Mars and Saturn preclude a quick resolution

(2 February 2014)  Thailand's controversial election was held today amidst an atmosphere of violence, distrust, and confusion.  Voting in many districts was postponed due to protesters blocking the arrival of ballots and officials.  There was no election at all in nine southern provinces where all candidates had been prevented from registering in January.  The election seems to be little more than a public relations exercise for the besieged government of Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of the indicted exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The main opposition Democrat party boycotted the election as they consider the government illegitimate due to numerous corruption charges and chronic economic mismanagement.  With the election unlikely to settle anything, there seemed to be little hope that deep class and regional divisions in this normally peaceful Southeast Asian country would be resolved any time soon.

The astrological perspective on the crisis in Thailand suggests that the political stalemate will likely continue.  The Thailand chart that marks the beginning of the current Chakri royal dynasty -- a moment in time chosen by Thai astrologers in 1782 --  shows a very heavily afflicted Ascendant by the transit of Saturn.  Saturn (28 Libra) is slowing down ahead of its retrograde station at 29 Libra on March 2nd.  Saturn is usually a bad planet, especially when it opposes a sensitive point in the chart like the Ascendant.  And when it slows its velocity, it usually coincides with significant situations of delay, obstacles, loss and sometimes destruction. 

The protests against the proposed government Amnesty Bill which would have allowed the deposed former PM Thaksin back to Thailand began in earnest in November.  Saturn was still eight degrees away from its aspect with the Ascendant but it was one central reason for the protests.  The Ascendant represents the body and soul of a nation so any affliction by a slow moving malefic like Saturn is bound to correspond to times of national concern and even crisis.

In November, December and January, transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) conjoined the natal Sun of Thailand at 10 Aries.  Ketu tends to reflect situations of change, uncertainty and disruption of the status quo.  The Sun, of course, symbolizes governments and leaders so that Ketu-Sun affliction was a very apt influence during the growing protests and strategic blockading of major intersections in Bangkok by the emboldened protest movement. 

Now that Ketu has moved past the Sun, the nature of the protests have changed.   The snap election was called by PM Yingluck in order to find a way to end the protests but that hasn't happened.  The election was a desperate move to buy some time and hope that the protests would fade and thereby avoid a military coup.  The Saturn-Ascendant aspect reflects the growing intractability of the crisis and how there may be no easy solutions to it.  And now Mars is more active in the chart.  Mars represents conflict and violence and it is sitting on the 6th house cusp at 29 Virgo.  The 6th house itself represents conflict and the military.  But the real problem for Thailand is that, like Saturn, Mars is also slowing down ahead of its retrograde station on March 1st.  This means that the Mars influence will be much longer and stronger than it otherwise would.  Mars stations at 3 Libra which will still be fairly close to the 6th cusp.  This is an indication that violence will continue to occur well into March as Mars moves backward over the cusp at 29 Virgo and then the natal Rahu at 25 Virgo. 

So this double station of malefics just one day apart on March 1st and 2nd is likely to hit Thailand quite hard.  This double station of astrology's two worst planets -- Mars and Saturn -- is extremely rare and may correlate with events and conditions of great hardship and suffering.  Thailand's bad luck in 2014 is that these planets will come to a full stop in the sky in close proximity to key points in its natal chart.

It seems very likely that the protests, the stalemate and the sporadic violence will continue until March at least when Mars and Saturn reverse direction and begin to back away from their respective aspects to the Ascendant.   Perhaps the more important question is whether there will be a coup.  The military occupies a central role in Thai society and politics and it has intervened several times in the past during moments of crisis after negotiations and compromise had failed.  The horoscope of the 1932 military coup that ended the absolute monarchy and began the modern era of Thai politics reveals a similar level of affliction.  Transiting Saturn is sitting just two degrees away from the 6th house -- the house of conflict.  Transiting Mars is also active in this chart as it is stationing very close to the 5th house cusp (1 Libra).  It is also exactly opposite unpredictable Uranus.

In a sense, the 1932 chart is not just a secondary chart for Thailand as a whole, it is also the natal chart for Thai military coups.  The September 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin occurred when the chart was under intense transit pressure.  Pluto was exactly opposite the Ascendant symbolizing the radical transformation of society from a traditional form of governance to a modern state.   Rahu was exactly conjunct the 10th house cusp symbolizing the disruption of leaders.   Finally, Saturn was conjunct Jupiter representing loss of the traditional guru or King-like figure (Thaksin).  On a more positive note, Jupiter was also in close aspect with Mercury indicating some measure of relief and resolution as the coup brought an end to a period of ongoing tension and opposition to the Thaksin administration.

So what are the chances for a coup in the near term?  I don't think many analysts think a coup is imminent, although it is in the back of everyone's mind.  There may be a fatalistic attitude toward it, as if it is only a matter of time before each side in the conflict runs out of patience and options and ratchet up the levels of violence.  A suddenly higher level of violence would likely bring out the tanks as the military honours its mandate to keep domestic peace. While the afflictions to the chart are considerable, I'm not convinced they are sufficient to suggest a coup is around the corner.  It's still possible, but it is not something that jumps out from the chart. 

Another major alignment occurs in June and July when Saturn and Uranus are in exact alignment at 22 degrees in their respective signs.  Saturn will station direct at 22 Libra and this will aspect the Lagnesh Mercury in the 1932 chart.  I would expect some significant developments at that time that could point to a resolution of the crisis.  Transiting Rahu also aspects the Ascendant at that time, so that usually means change will be afoot.  Will it be a coup or will the government ride out the storm and find a compromise that keeps them in power?  It's hard to say given the lack of timed horoscopes for the major players in the crisis.  Interestingly, this Saturn-Uranus pattern will align with the the natal Sun of opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban (July 7, 1949, no time).  This is usually a fairly stressful and difficult alignment so he could experience a setback at this time.  That is perhaps a small hint that the government may prevail, but I would not be comfortable making that prediction.  There are other possible scenarios that could see opposition leader Suthep suffering a setback even after a coup that deposes the government. 

Financial Market Update

Global stocks generally retreated last week as worries over the stability of emerging economies continued to undermine confidence.  US markets fell about 1% while Indian stocks slumped 3%.  The pullback was in line with expectations as I thought that the midweek Mars-Saturn alignment would likely turn the week negative overall.  As expected, Indian stocks fell further as the Mars-Saturn pattern activated a key point in the BSE horoscope. 

This week could be more of the same as Mars enters Libra on Tuesday.  Some early week gains are perhaps possible but the second half of the week looks more bearish.