A Thai Spring?

The results of Thailand’s recent general election will seem familiar to anyone attuned to the political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa. As in those countries, new information technology, demographic shifts, rising expectations, and the obsolescence of Cold War exigencies have placed an entrenched regime under unprecedented pressure.

BANGKOK – The thunderous results of Thailand’s general election on July 3 will seem familiar to anyone attuned to the political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa. Entrenched incumbent regimes everywhere are under severe stress from advances in information technology, shifts in demographics, rising expectations, and the obsolescence of Cold War exigencies. In the absence of a willingness and ability to use violent repression, regime survival can be achieved only through concessions, accommodation, and periodic reinvention.

With 47 million voters and turnout at 75%, Thailand’s latest election results pose a decisive challenge to the country’s long-established regime. The Pheu Thai party, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of exiled fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, secured a resounding triumph, winning 265 seats in the 500-member assembly, while the ruling Democrat Party mustered just 159.

The return to power of Pheu Thai is extraordinary – and not only because Yingluck will be Thailand’s first female prime minister. The establishment-aligned courts dissolved the party’s two previous governments, and banned scores of its leading politicians from office for five years.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/BRUmbQD;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.