Kingdom of Thailand: A Distressing Standoff

26-02-2014

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP, backed by Thailand’s rural communities, and the opposition, supported mainly by Bangkok's middle class and by constituencies in the south, remained irreconcilable. The fragile political peace was broken when the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's (PTP) introduced an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (deposed in 2006), to return from exile without being imprisoned for corruption. The political stalemate in Thailand, which has continued for eight years in one form or another, highlights the importance of holding a comprehensive debate about the country’s political culture and a thorough re-negotiation of the way in which it is governed. Yet such a prospect appears unlikely in the current situation, as positions are ever more entrenched.

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP, backed by Thailand’s rural communities, and the opposition, supported mainly by Bangkok's middle class and by constituencies in the south, remained irreconcilable. The fragile political peace was broken when the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's (PTP) introduced an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (deposed in 2006), to return from exile without being imprisoned for corruption. The political stalemate in Thailand, which has continued for eight years in one form or another, highlights the importance of holding a comprehensive debate about the country’s political culture and a thorough re-negotiation of the way in which it is governed. Yet such a prospect appears unlikely in the current situation, as positions are ever more entrenched.