The Rise and Fall of Electoral Violence in Thailand: Changing Rules, Structures and Power Landscapes, 1997–2011
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 36, Number 3, December 2014
- pp. 386-416
- Additional Information
- Purchase/rental options available:
From 1997 to 2006, the 1997 Constitution and its newly designed electoral system and the rise of a strong populist party led by Thaksin Shinawatra and the 2006 coup transformed local political structures and power balances. Thaksin’s ambitious goal of monopolizing the political market raised the stakes of electoral competition, forcing provincial bosses to employ violent tactics to defeat their competitors. Consequently, the demand for and supply of electoral violence increased, as witnessed in the 2001 and 2005 elections. After the 2006 coup, political settings at the national and local levels underwent another major change. The royal-military intervention in the electoral process combined with growing ideological politics stifled and marginalized provincial bosses, thereby decreasing the demand for violence. As a result, incidents of violence during the 2007 and 2011 elections declined. Thai electoral politics and its pattern of violence are currently in a state of transition. Some new elements have emerged, but they have not yet completely replaced the old ones. The exercise of privatized violence by the provincial bosses was a remnant of the political and economic order established in the 1980s. This unsettling phenomenon will not entirely disappear until the patrimonial structure of the state is radically transformed and personalistic fighting over government spoils and rent-distribution are substantially reduced.