Cadre or Cartel? The Evolution of the Political Party and of the Political-Party System in Thailand


About the Webinar

In 1932, a military-civilian clique called the People’s Party (Khana Ratsadon) overturned Thailand’s absolute monarchy and established a constitutional regime. This political party was the first to emerge in Thailand, but it never gained legal status. Parties evolved over subsequent decades. Early parties were cadre parties, composed of members of parliament—some in factions controlling their own electoral organizations. Party organizations were weak, with few financial resources, non-existent on the ground, relying on patronage, and with little party discipline. Military coups entrenched parties’ cadre-based organization, as they led to the dissolution of formal party organizations but not of the informal electoral factions. Coups also led to frequent changes in electoral law. Nevertheless, Thailand has seen many attempts to promote party and party-system institutionalization, particularly since the promulgation of the reformist 1997 Constitution. Despite these attempts, a weakly institutionalized party and party system has persisted. This webinar will examine the development and adaptations of political parties in Thailand. What factors explain the failure of party and party-system adaptation? How have new technologies affected party adaption? Can existing major parties, including the ruling Phalang Pracharat Party, survive in the long term? Drawing on the speakers’ book manuscript on stability, change, institutionalization and evolution in the Thai political-party system, the webinar will address these questions and others.

About the Speakers

James Ockey is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and a former ISEAS Visiting Fellow. He has studied and written about Thai political parties for more than three decades.

Punchada Sirivunnabood is Visiting Fellow in the Thailand Studies Programme of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahidol University, Bangkok.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely via Zoom. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

Please register here.


Mar 14 2022


2:30 pm - 4:00 pm