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Pasuk Phongpaichit

Thailand in Another Round of Turmoil

The proximate cause for the latest wave of protests which has swept through Bangkok since October was the ruling party's attempt to ram through legislative changes that would have benefi ted the former prime minister and deeply polarising fi gure of Thaksin Shinawatra. However, the demonstrations refl ect a deep divide in Thai society according to class, region and ideology, a divide which has developed over the past half century as growth has centred on Bangkok while the rural north and east have been left behind.

Thailand's Election

For the fourth time since 2001, the Thai electorate has handed victory to Pheu Thai, the party associated with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was the first to recognise the social pressures generated by Thailand's breakneck transition from a low-income to a middle-income economy over the past generation. For the past five years, the battleground of Thailand's political conflict has been the streets. In this melee, the composition and weight of each side has been hard to gauge. The poll result gives a clear reading; the election also shifts the conflict back into the formal institutions of representative democracy.

Thailand: Fighting over Democracy

The turmoil in Thailand has drawn into its fold the rural masses, a minority urban middle class and the military, not to mention the monarchy. At the centre is the billionaire businessman and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but the conflict which has divided families, towns and villages has gone beyond Thaksin. It has brought to the surface fundamental questions about the prospects for democracy in societies, which are struggling to manage the impact of globalisation.

Thai Capital after the Asian Crisis

The 1997 east Asian crisis marks a major shift in the role and prospects of private domestic capital, part of a major adjustment to globalisation with far-reaching implications. Over the second-half of the 20th century, Thai domestic capital had played a key role in expanding the productive potential of the economy. After the crisis, it has been confined mostly to a rentier and service role in an economy dominated by multinational firms.