Dec 21, 2013

Check: Is Thailand so special in protest cycle between the rich urban and poor rural?

Asia Unbound » Thailand’s Political Crisis—Not so Unique

But in many ways, Thailand is not so unique, and there are lessons to be learned from other democratizing nations—once Thai opinion leaders get beyond the idea of Thai uniqueness. Many countries have made a gradual transition to democracy only to find that some segments of the middle class and elite dislike the shift in power engendered by democratization, and look to extra constitutional means of subverting democracy. In countries like Spain, for instance, remnants of the military/bureaucratic/business elite repeatedly tried to bring down elected governments in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But as King Juan Carlos and other top military leaders repeatedly stymied coups and other interventions, it became accepted that coups were no longer feasible in Spain, and most elites reconciled themselves to democratic politics.


Similarly, other countries in the region have made a gradual transition toward building trusted formal institutions of conflict mediation and away from having disputes mediated by informal institutions gathered around one or two top leaders, as was common in Suharto’s Indonesia and has been the case with Thailand’s network monarchy for years. Indonesia slowly has built a more stable and trusted court system, and more trusted institutions designed to monitor elections and address potential electoral fraud. Poorer than Thailand, and in many ways far more divided and harder to govern, Indonesia nonetheless has created reasonably stable formal institutions, allowing politics to be channeled through a system, and no longer through the hands of a small handful of men and women.


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