Police crackdown

Samak has so far shown considerable restraint and publicly pledged not to resort to violence, but many wonder how long this can last if protests persist that paralyse his government.

Scores of deaths could result if riot police were sent in to storm the protest zone, where middle-aged women sit side-by-side with youths armed with stakes, golf clubs and iron bars.

Inevitable public revulsion at bloodshed could trigger Samak's downfall.

Protest fizzles

Nobody knows who is really backing the PAD, but most analysts suspect the group has deep pockets and is well connected.

With Samak on the back foot, it is unlikely to give up now.

Royal intervention

Deeply popular and revered by many Thais, King Bhumibol Adulyadej carries huge informal political clout.

In six decades on the throne he has intervened in several disputes, favouring variously elected or military administrations.

Earlier this month the 80-year-old monarch delivered thinly veiled criticism of government economic policy and its conduct in a spat with the Bank of Thailand over how to tackle inflation.

But a spokesman for Samak told Al Jazeera that at a recent meeting with the king, there was no pressure on the prime minister to resign.

PM resigns

Samak could step down along with his cabinet, leaving the opposition Democrat party to cobble together a coalition government.

If it fails, elections would ensue.

Snap election

Samak dissolves parliament to call a snap election

But, with his People Power party - a replacement for the disbanded Thai Rak Thai party of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra - almost certain to win again and lead the next government, the PAD is unlikely to give up its campaign.