Is Democracy Possible in Thailand?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-4-101-110

N. Rogozhina, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The political development of Thailand in XXIth century is characterized by a deep split of the society into opponents and supporters of democratization. The latter are consolidated around the figure of Taksin Sinavatra, the former prime minister. He was overthrown by the military in 2006, but still enjoys the support of the popular majority he gained due to his economic policy aimed at improving the life conditions of the poor in periphery regions. The triumph of his parties in elections since 2001 caused the new power balance in politics traditionally viewed as a focal area of the political establishment – the representatives of the Bangkok upper and middle classes only. The marginalization of their position in the political system and the impossibility of coming to power through elections determined their integration into the anti-government movement, for the purpose of cancelling the representative democracy system that doesn’t meet the interests of the traditional political elite finding itself in a “minority” and unwilling to be under the reign of a “majority”. The deepening of the political crisis provoked the military into undertaking the coup d’état in May 2014 and establishing an authoritarian regime, which ensured the accrescency of power for the traditional elite. Nevertheless, as the author concludes, the future political development of Thailand seems unclear. The power of military in cooperation with their civilian followers is unlikely to reconcile the society, split by class differences and political aspirations. The contemporary political development of Thailand reflects the situation when the “populace” doesn’t want just to remain under control any longer, and the “upper strata” refuses to be under the rule of the electoral majority. The main question raised today is not of the Taksin's destiny, but of an alternative for the Thailand's future political development – restricted democracy directed by upper classes, or representative democracy.

Keywords: Thailand, democracy, Taksin Sinavatra, political situation, political establishment, military coup d’état, middle class

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For citation:
Rogozhina N. Is Democracy Possible in Thailand?. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 4, pp. 101-110.

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