The Role of Political Parties in Thailand, and their Place in Thai Democracy
THAILAND STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
About the Webinar
Since the dawn of constitutional government in 1932, the role of parties in the Thai political order has remained an unsettled question. The years following the Pacific War saw contestation among parties across the ideological spectrum. Among them was the royalist Democrat Party, today Thailand’s oldest. Later, military strongmen repeatedly tried to win electoral legitimacy by launching pro-government “junta parties”. The apparent consolidation of parliamentary democracy during the 1980s and 1990s featured fractious multi-party coalitions that taxed premiers’ management skills. A spoils system determined the allocation of cabinet portfolios among parties. The 2005 electoral triumph that sent Thaksin Shinawatra to the premiership for the second time made possible the formation of a single-party government — ousted in a coup the following year. During the past quarter-century Thai constitution-drafters have sought to shape and re-shape the party system, sometimes to favour large parties and at other times small ones. Thailand has most recently used mixed-member proportional representation in elections, intended to stop there being a dominant party in parliament. All the while, some observers have wondered if Thailand’s political parties represent anything but the selfish interests of their faction leaders and financial backers, while others view them as indispensable organs for the articulation of citizens’ preferences. This webinar offers one of the leading figures in Thai politics during the last three decades an opportunity to share his thoughts on the role and importance of political parties in his country’s democracy.
About the Speaker
The Honorable Abhisit Vejjajiva served as the twenty-seventh Prime Minister of Thailand from December 2008 to August 2011, presiding over a six- and then seven-party coalition government. He entered parliament as a “new face” following the elections of March 1992, representing the Bangkok districts of Sathon, Yannawa and Bang Kho Laem. Reelected to parliament eight times, he was the leader of the Democrat Party for nearly a decade and a half, from 2005 to 2019.
About the Discussant
Punchada Sirivunnabood is Visiting Fellow in the Thailand Studies Programme of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahidol University, Bangkok. With James Ockey, she is preparing a book manuscript on stability, change, institutionalization and evolution in the Thai political-party system.
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.
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