Change and Continuity in the Politics of Patronage in Thailand


About the Webinar

Despite significant changes in Thailand’s political landscape in the past two decades, many Thai parties and politicians continue to rely on patronage politics to win elections. In a pattern that has now become ubiquitous, parties and candidates recruit and outsource campaigning to networks of local government officials, locally elected officials, and community leaders. These networks, typically built and mobilised through the distribution of cash, favours, jobs, and privileged access to government resources, serve as the infrastructure for targeting voters with a wide range of benefits, often in return for their support. As a result, party-voter linkages in Thailand have struggled to develop independently of patronage, with notable implications for party institutionalization, governance, and corruption.

This webinar explores how patronage politics has not only survived, but thrived in Thailand. Drawing on fieldwork involving in-depth interviews with politicians and vote canvassers in 2019-2020, it will highlight how patronage politics operates and how it has adapted to changing contexts in Thailand, including under a hybrid military-authoritarian regime. It will also discuss the implications that patronage politics will have for the upcoming Thai general election and beyond.

About the Speaker

Napon Jatusripitak is a Visiting Fellow in the Thailand Studies Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He holds a PhD and MA in Political Science from Northwestern University, MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University, and BA in Economics and Asian Studies from Cornell University. His research interests include nationalism, democratization, elite politics, patronage, and clientelism. His doctoral dissertation, “The Politics of Giving: Patterns and Evolution of Patronage and Electoral Networks in Thailand,” explores change and continuity in how political parties and politicians in Thailand deliver selective benefits to their constituents as a means to mobilize their support.


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

Please register here to receive your unique link for joining the webinar.


Mar 16 2023


10:00 am - 11:00 am