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Thailand's 2019 Vote: The General's Election

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Thailand's March 2019 ballot was the first for the country since 2011, and for many it signaled the potential end of the military junta's five-year rule. But was it truly a return to democracy? This essay argues that the election was far from a democratization event. Instead, it was a highly orchestrated exercise to ensure authoritarian longevity. The junta employed techniques of institutional engineering as well as managing the election's outcomes in an effort to extend the premiership of Prayuth Chan-ocha despite increasing pressure for a return to civilian rule. The results of the election suggest that Thai society continues to exhibit deep divisions between those who support and those who oppose military interventions in politics. I further contend that the election should be seen as part of the continuing struggle by conservative forces in society to maintain their dominance in politics despite demands from other segments of the population for equal representation, a contest which is far from over.
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Keywords: CONSTITUTIONAL ENGINEERING; DEMOCRACY; ELECTIONS; MILITARY JUNTA; THAILAND; THAILAND PARTY SYSTEM

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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