Organized Panel Session
Since 2006, Thailand has witnessed two successful military coups that pushed the country off the path towards democratic development. The latest coup in 2014 installed a military junta that ruled the country for five years with draconian laws and suppression against critics and dissidents. The junta failed to address economic problems but resorted to welfare policies to pacify the country’s poor. On the surface, the long-awaited elections in 2019 may appear to have returned democracy and peace to the country, but close scrutiny reveals otherwise. The military was able to use the election to renew its grip on power and to undermine popular aspirations for greater representation. Political polarization remains intense: earlier cleavages based upon color-coded divides that mapped onto regional, ideological and class differences have now been exacerbated by overt generational splits. The panel examines the state of Thailand’s politics following the election, and reviews the prospects for future developments.