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Thailand’s Upsurge and Governance


There has been a recent upsurge in demonstrations all over Thailand by protesters. We have to first check the root cause of the problem before identifying the solutions that are available to the people of Thailand. Thailand is the only nation that was never colonized by any of the European nations this is why the monarch system thrived and continues to do so. The king at the time, Chulalongkorn had complete control over the political system as there was no government or constitution in place. Major decisions affecting the country were made by the King. The monarch system had thrived for seven centuries where the first kingdom was established in 1237. It was in 1932 that the masses and members of elite families became frustrated by the domination and the decisions of the all-powerful king (Chulanot, 2010). They desperately wanted reforms in the way the country was governed. Just like all other countries, the Thai citizens wanted a government that was constitutionally democratic whereby the monarch was governed and limited by the country’s constitution. The environment for a revolution ripened after the great depression of 1929. Just like their neighbors, Siam (now Thailand), was suffering economically and the monarch was seen as not caring for its people. This was quickly followed by the coup in 1932. The constitution that was quickly drafted at the time created the post of the prime minister which is evident up to today. The fear now lies that the king’s death will further embroil the country into more anarchy. This is despite the King’s voiced his concerns over the current political stalemate that is affecting the country. In a recent announcement, the King urged the people to put the concerns of the country before their own (Chulanot, 2010).

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As we speak today, the Coup of 1932 seemed to have failed. Despite the change of government from that of an all-powerful monarch, the base of the power was shifted from the king to the ruling elite in conjunction with the military leaders at the time. The real fruits of the change never went to the masses. It is this discrepancy that continues to hinder the masses as they continue to grow more and more nostalgic of the past where the King was responsible for ruling the country. With the health of the king continuing to deteriorate it is becoming more transparent that investors and the citizens of the country are becoming more and more rattled over the future. Despite the coup, the King has always remained the symbol of unity even when there was great uncertainty in governance issues that affect the country. Democracy has come under fire following the military coups that have since followed since the first coup of 1932. The most recent debacle that is affecting Thailand dates back to 2006, where the military leaders ousted Prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The prime minister was the only one to have finished a full term. This displays how rocky the country’s democracy is. The military junta used allegations of corruption against the prime minister to overthrow the popular leader. The action has led to a division of the country as the rural folk (red shirts) who supported the prime minister are against the yellow shirts (individuals seen to be siding with the military and urban elite). The red shirts support the deposed prime minister due to the programs and policies that he instigated while in power (Chulanot, 2010). The policies are seen to have assisted the rural folks in alleviating poverty. The current crisis facing the country is not about personalities but dates back to the infamous coup of 1932 where the masses did not benefit. Since the coup, there has always been a gap between the have and the have-nots of society. The reason why Thaksin Shinawatra remains a polarizing figure in Thai politics is due to his policies that tried to bring an equality of wealth across the people of Thailand. Unless all the parties sit down and discuss the current political impasse will continue to hinder economic growth in Thailand.

Stages of Democracy in Thailand

During 1932, the public wanted change and other social reforms as they were tired of the monarch system. In conjunction with the military, the coup took place in which the king hurriedly accepted to create a new constitution. Since then successive governments have always been grappled with how to best contain the military. Despite the presence of a constitution, the government is presently facing an uphill battle in regard to how they can appease all citizens regardless of race, gender and wealth. Consecutive elections have always taken place in the country but it presently remains to be seen that the monarch is still revered (Calvert, 2009).

Long term prospects for democracy in Thailand

Analysts have been quoted as saying that it is probable that the days of the monarch system are ending. As the health of the king deteriorates, a democratic government seems to be more and more likely to take the base and will be the preferred mode of the future. Not only are the days of the monarch coming to an end but also the days of the military junta seizing control over the government are also coming to an end. Even though it will not be perfect but with time democracy will take shape. There is also the slow and steady emergence of civil societies all around the country. Although not as strong as in other neighboring countries, the societies are becoming stronger and the citizens are becoming less afraid in voicing the way their government is run (Calvert, 2009).

Personal Reaction

The source chosen evaluates the problems that have continued to hinder Thailand in its journey to full and total democracy. The article is reliable as the author details the recent uprising and divisions in the society between the haves and the have-nots and their influence on politics. Over the years revolts and coups have always taken place. One person whose impact continues to be seen and felt is the king who has called for peace to reign in the country. Although his powers have greatly reduced since the coup of 1932, he continues to be the referee whenever there are issues affecting the country. The author seems to favor a mix of both the monarch and democratic government. Although the monarch system seems to be at the sunset years, the influence of the king remains to be seen.


Calvert, Peter, & Susan Calvert (2009).Politics and Society in the Third World (3rd ed.). Essex, England: Pearson’s Education Limited.

Chulanot, Surayud. (2010). Returning to Democracy. Thailand: Pyanek Publishers.

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