Publication date: 1 December 2015
Publication: Asian Democracy Review
Author: Naruemon Thabchumpon (Director, CSDS), Jakkrit Sangkhamanee, Carl Middleton (International Researcher, CSDS), and Weera Wongsatjachock.
Download this article from the Asian Democracy Review journal website here.
Over the past several decades, Thailand has experienced increasing extended periods of representative democracy frequented by periods of political demonstrations and disruptions, contentious politics, and military intervention. On May 22, 2014, Thailand underwent its most recent military coup that prompted the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the country. This research demonstrates that Thailand under military rule has entered a period of re-monopolization of political, economic and civil society power, that is in contrast with the measures of democracy as understood through the lens of Asian Democracy Index (ADI) (Cho 2012, 39-41). As evidenced by public policies, regulations and restrictions created by the NCPO, the study argues that the coup of 2014 has made a particularly strong reassertion of Thai society in contrast to other recent military coups, which can be categorized as the creation of the neo-authoritarian developmental state in Thailand’s twenty-first century.
This paper utilized the ADI index, conducted in-depth interviews with twenty-seven key experts on Thai politics, and contextualized the democratic situation of Thailand from documentary research on various events and trends in the country. It is divided into four parts: a brief background of Thai democracy, ADI’s methodology and its limits, research findings, and an analytical conclusion. Throughout the study, the research argues that the implications of neo-authoritarian developmental state are clearly seen in the Thai democratization process in 2015. Using ADI’s de-monopolization process approach, the study argues that Thailand has veered away from parliamentary supremacy to an undemocratic governmentality with the politics of bad governance resulting from the increase of political exclusion and economic monopoly with elements of social discrimination.