觾 (English)
THAI POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE AGE OF REFORM

The author aims to study the changed structure of electoral system and electoral process during the period of political reform and their impact on the development of the Thai political party system, the institutional context in which these changes are located, major Thai political parties organizations, leadership, platform, ideology and funding to determine their strengths and weakness and their possibility in winning the general election.




This book contains 6 Chapters;

  • Literature review and Theoretical framework
  • Political parties and the Thai society: Historical Perspective
  • Structures of competition and vote structuring
  • Process of parties adaptation, constraint and control
  • Party readjustment in the wake of institutional changes
  • Political parties and the Thai society: contemporary issues

    By Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee

    Forward

    Political parties in Thailand have not a long and easy path. Since their emergence in the early 1950s only one party has survived and established itself as a strong political force. Because of their discontinuity, there has been no major research or study on this subject. Siripans research is the first systematic effort to analyze Thai political parties of their developments and challengers, especially under the 1997 Constitution. The study is timely because of the recent coup (September 19, 2006) after which all parties were banned, and two major parties are under investigation by the constitutional court. Siripan raises a very important issue concerning the relationship between political parties and business conglomerates. In this third stage of development, Thai politics has brought in a new factor which makes the state and society relations more complicated, and may lead to a highly unstable situations.
    Chai-Anan Samudavanija
    President of the Institute
    of Public Policy Studies
    December 2006




    Thai Political Parties in the Age of Reform provides a comprehensive evolution of Thai political parties in the contemporary time. Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee convincingly argues that the 1997 constitution, party elites, election campaign, and dictatorial power of the single-party government had shaped the development of Thai political parties into a business conglomerate control.
    The unexpected military coup on September 19, 2006 may seem to contradict Siripans hypothesis that political parties are now insulated from the military power. However, when we dwell upon her explanation of the political party development process, she implicitly describes a sharp cleavage between the supremacy of the Thaksin government and the Thai military establishment. The widespread corruption of his majority government, the failure of the parliamentary check and balance system, the tight control of mass media, and the outcry discontent demonstration gave a solid legitimacy for many Thais to support the military coup. Therefore, Siripans hypothesis implies that a military coup could potentially result from the collision between the Thaksin government and the longstanding bureaucratic system.
    Siripan classifies the development of Thai political parties into three stages. She carefully links those stages of political parties into a perspective of the contemporary political party history. This perspective reflects an imbalance of the development, with a sophisticated management of political parties and election campaign on one hand and a poor mass of peasants and rural unemployed on the other. The massive victory of the 2005 election leading to a singleparty government of Thai Rak Thai could not secure the Thaksin government from the military coup. The defeat of the Thaksin government evidently indicates that the 2005 election victory was not an electoral representation of the Thai people as claimed, particularly in the upcountry areas. As Siripan confirms, Thai political parties do not truly represent the interest of Thai people; the parties have not built a representative foundation to support their development. Therefore, they now have to find their balance of development that could sustain growth.
    Thai Political Party in the Age of Reform is a book that students and political actors of Thai contemporary politics must read.
    Kanok Wongtrangan
    2006



    PREFACE AND ACKNOLEDGEMENTS

    This book has grown out of a research project of the same title, Thai Political Parties in the Age of Reform, completed in December 2004. Since that time, I have conducted additional research in order to ensure the studys relevance to the current political situation in Thailand. My interest in the subject of political parties stems from the fact that although political parties have evolved enormously for the past three decades and have been significant players in Thai politics, we in Thai society hardly understand them. More importantly, the standard texts, both in Thai and English, on Thai political parties and the party system do not offer empirical and convincing explanations of what is happening and why. I am concerned to explain clearly what factors have contributed and continue to contribute to the changing elements of Thai political parties.
    The 1997 Constitution has persisted as the focal unit of many debates even after it was abolished. Its fundamental impacts on change and adaptation of Thai political parties and the party system can be seen in the results of the 2001 and 2005 general elections. For six years, the threats raised by the domination of big business in the political sphere have occupied what political debate there has been in Thai society. There were outcries from intellectuals fearing parliamentary dictatorship, along with protests from NGOs against the misuse of natural resources and the monopoly by business tycoons-cum-leaders.
    Three months before the publications of this book, the Royal Thai Army staged a bloodless coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatras government on the evening of September 19, 2006. This was the first successful coup in fifteen years. The coup group, later calling themselves the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM), canceled the upcoming elections, suspended the Constitution and dissolved Parliament. The coup occurred after a nearly year-long political predicament involving Prime Minister Thaksin and the anti-government protest group, called the Peoples Alliance for Democracy, led by Sondhi Limthongkul, an outspoken journalist.
    The 2006 coup detat has resulted in another significant incarnation of political parties as players in the Thai
    political arena. Although political parties were not abolished, their political activities have been strictly prohibited. This sadly shatters the hopes of many who want to uphold the spirit of Thai democracy. The 2006 coup conveys a message that in Thailand there will always be the threat of a military coup. Notwithstanding, this does not erase the general perception that competitive political parties are indispensable to the consolidation and growth of the democratic system in Thailand. Therefore, we cannot cease to examine and understand the roles of political parties even during the time of non-elected government.
    I would like to thank the organizers and participants at the Asian Conference on Democracy and Electoral Reforms in the Philippines, who offered suggestions and criticisms of Chapter 3. Chapter 4 was published in KPI Yearbook No.3 (2004/5), and sections of Chapter 5 and 6 appeared in the Philippine Journal of Third World Studies as The 2005 General Elections in Thailand: Toward a One Party Government, published in 2005. I am thankful to anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments for all these publications.
    My deep appreciations are due to a number of people. Don Linder not only edited the book, but also gave me his valuable comments and suggestions, for which I am grateful. Siriya Rattanachuay and Yared Akarapattananukul helped check the text and arrange it into final form. I acknowledge this assistance with considerable gratitude. Kittipong Vejmaleenon provided me with invaluable data and material for the writing of this book.
    My family and their unconditional love has made me a person I am today. Sith, my husband who designed the books cover, has endured the frustrations and demands. I adore his understanding and genuinely support.
    Finally, I thank the Institute of Public Policy Studies and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for funding the research project and publishing this book.
    Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee
    Chulalongkorn University
    Bangkok, Thailand
    December 2006
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