Political situation in Thailand: authoritarianism versus democracy

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Chief Researcher, Center for Development and Modernization Studies
Affiliation: Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO)
Address: Moscow, 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 9

The article analyzes the features of the current stage of political development in Thailand, which are characterized by the collision of two trends - authoritarianism and democracy, which resulted in the establishment of a quasi-democratic regime.

Despite the formal existence of democratic institutions of power - parliament, an independent court, and parties-none of them works for representative democracy, while maintaining their attachment to the interests of the traditional political establishment - the army, the bureaucracy, and big business. The article gives an assessment of the current political situation, which is characterized by the development of the democratic movement.

The lack of opportunities for the opposition to transit to democracy within the framework of the parliamentary struggle explains the growth of street protests with the participation of young people. The student unrest that has engulfed the country over the past year and a half is a response of the democratic-minded segments of society to the strengthening of authoritarianism in the country's governance, with the accompanying infringement of civil rights and freedoms. The demands made by the anti-government forces ultimately amount to the reform of the political system. Their call for reform of the institution of the monarchy should also be viewed from this perspective. However, the lack of a broad democratic coalition limits the influence of student protests on the government.

Assessing the prospects for the country's political development, the author comes to the conclusion that street protests alone will not change the status quo in politics. The potential influence of young people on the sphere of politics depends on mass support, which is possible only if the requirements put forward by them meet the social demand that forms the society.

KeywordsThailand, political system, quasi-democracy, authoritarianism, student protests
Publication date15.09.2021
Number of characters32439
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