Thailand's constitutional court has made the right decision by the nation in invalidating last month's election and it is now up to politicians to ensure a new parliament is chosen fairly. This is just the beginning of the end of the political crisis, however, and all involved in fresh polls have to tread with the utmost care. At the root of the problem are paragraphs of the 1997 constitution which permitted the months of deadlock that have ground the government to a halt. They are a matter for future consideration with the proper public consultation process; most urgent is an election date, a proper amount of time for candidates to campaign and the creation of a new government. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has the greatest responsibility and must act with his country, rather than self-interest, in mind. This was clearly not the case when he called the April 2 election at short notice three years early to ward off accusations of corruption and end street protests calling for his resignation. He could not have predicted the scale of the outcry his decision sparked, nor the constitutional crisis that evolved. Thailand's image has been tarnished by the subsequent impasse and while problems at the core of the crisis remain unresolved, the immediate responsibility of politicians is to ensure that free and fair elections are held. Doing that under present circumstances is difficult: Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai political party has deep influence in the body that will conduct the polls, the electoral commission. As the last election has been declared flawed, the commission should be dissolved, but choosing four new commissioners will be difficult as well. The upper house of parliament, which would make the selection, is also Thai Rak Thai-dominated. Then there is the question of whether Mr Thaksin will stand for re-election. If he does, this is his prerogative; Thailand is a democracy, after all, and the corruption allegations are allegations, not charges. He has said he will step back from politics, and while that would be an ideal scenario considering the turmoil of recent months, he is under no obligation to do so. Nonetheless, he should keep in mind the threat by the opposition Democrats to resume protests if he does not keep his word. Those demonstrations prompted a voter boycott that left parliamentary seats vacant and meant it was constitutionally unable to sit. By opting to contest the poll, Mr Thaksin could plunge Thailand back into what King Bhumibol Adulyadej has described as 'a mess'. Staying out of the fray will boost the chances of the nation's political system getting back on track, while the process will be given even greater credence in the eyes of the opposition and voters if Thai Rak Thai politicians do their utmost to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. The Democrats and two smaller parties involved in the protests also have a significant role to play. Mr Thaksin's last two overwhelming election wins and the 57 per cent support he received from April's discredited poll indicate they may do poorly when they again face voters. They must similarly comply with the rules of the election. Only in this way can a fresh, credible election in which candidates stand for every seat, voters turn out to choose parliamentarians and a government elected in accordance with the constitution be assured. After that has been done, Thailand's longer-term political situation must be examined by lawmakers. They have to determine whether the constitution needs to be revisited; clearly, its drafters did not envisage the situation that has evolved and efforts must be made to prevent a reoccurrence. In the meantime, there are more pressing hurdles to be overcome and it is only with political and legal care that they will be surmounted. But, above all, it is essential that throughout the ensuing process, the public interest is put first.