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Why is Thailand’s Democracy Susceptible to Dramatic Reversals?

Brooke Forbes, Yip Tsz Kit, Navreen Dhilon

Thailand’s unique democratisation process has seen a patchwork of crisis, corruption, constitution-drafting, monarchy allegiance and military coups. In the post-cold war era, Thailand is joining a movement across South East Asia and separating itself from autocracy, however the process is complex and susceptible to dramatic reversals.

Key concepts: monarchy, democracy,democratisation, liberalisation, revolution, military coup, autocracy

Rundown of Presentation

1.    Journey from absolute Monarchy to political revolution 1.1 Political democratization in Thailand from 1973
1.2 1970’s – 1980’s (1973 Siam Revolution to the corrupt rule of Chatchai) 1.3 1997 Constitution: aiming at reinforcing democracy and rectification 1.4 The rise of Thaksin

2.    The impact and implications of Thaksin’s leadership 2001-2006 and subsequent 2006 military coup 2.1 The rise of Thaksin Shinawatra
2.2 The National Agenda
2.3 The impact and implications of Thaksin’s Leadership 2.4 Factors that led to the fall of Thaksin Shinawatra

3.    Why is Thailand’s democracy is susceptible to reversal? 3.1 Constitutional Change: Does the 2007 Constitution Undermine Democracy?The lingering presence of Thaksin through Yingluck 3.2 The lingering presence of Thaksin through Yingluck

3.3 Vote buying and Money Politics
3.4 Inequality is moral: the information gap hypothesis
3.5 Democracy and Monarchy: are they Contemporary Competing Forces in Thailand?

1. The revolution from above and Thailand's transition to modernity

1.1  A brief background of Thailand

1.1.1 Geography- Regional differentiation
 Thailand covers an area of around 513,000 square kilometers, featuring by its mountainous north, agriculturally rich central plains and distinctive peninsula area in the south.     1.1.2 History

 Thailand is one of the ancient kingdom in Asia. The history of Siam can be traced back to 13th century, including Sukhotai Kingdom (1238-1583), Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767), Thonburi Kingdom (1768-1782) and Rattanakosin Kingdom (1782-present). The country was renamed from Siam to Thailand in 1932.

1.1.3. Ethnicity- Thai majority  
 One-third of the population in the country is ethnically-Thai, 14% Chinese Origin, and 3% Malay

1.1.4 Religion- Buddhists
 94.6% of the total population is Buddhists. The second largest group is Muslims, accounting for 4.6%, most Muslims reside in southern provinces composed of ethnic Malay. Once 0.7% of the population is Christians.

1.1.5 Political
 Absolute monarchy was exercised in Thailand before 1932. Revolution from above, the institutions of modern Thailand were designed during the reign of Kin Chulalongkorn (1868-1910). It was ended by a military coup in 1932 and transformed into a constitutional monarchy, under military rule (Murashima,  2007). Under development, political revolution began since 1973.

1.16 Economic
 Thailand was the second largest economy in the South East Asia. However, the development was imbalanced, featuring by the prosperous central near the capital, Bangkok and the poor rural North. Inequality of wealth and development are indicated by Gini Coefficient ~0.45 (World Bank, 2012)

1.2  Political revolution in Thailand since 1973

Political revolution in Thailand
 Political power was controlled in the hands of the military for 26 years until October 1973,  in which students and urban classes successfully demanded democratic reforms and the abdication of the military through bloody demonstration. There was a gradual decline in the power of military, the growth of middle class and increased public participation in the 20 years followed the revolution (Wasi P., 1991). In 1980s, under the administration of General Prem Tinsulanonda, intellectuals and social movements became convinced of the desirability of democratization and political...
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