Thailand’s Most Recent Coup

Thailand’s May 22, 2014 coup is—sadly–not a huge surprise. Not only is Thailand among the most coup-prone countries in the world (as I illustrate here), but the pressure has been steadily building over the past year. In my February post on election boycotts, I wrote

Once we start … politicking over the electoral rule then unless we start pinning things down with further assumptions the strategies spin out of control and the model blows up.

That, in the Thai case, might be just what the opposition wants. Because if the model doesn’t pin things down with assumptions, then you could always have the military do it for you.

Or put otherwise,

the clearest “solutions” to Thailand’s political crisis are to reduce the number of axes of political conflict or to impose a minority’s preferences. The former amounts to decreeing that procedural politics is no longer subject to debate … , and the latter amounts to abandoning the goal of representative elections

Unlike perhaps most observers, I view Thailand’s recent coup as a symptom of an underlying disease, not the disease itself. The real disease is an irresolvable stalemate between two entrenched political opponents in which not just the outcomes of elections but the very legitimacy of each side’s participation in those elections is subject to debate. I don’t see any easy treatment to recommend.

Comments 4

  1. Sad bob May 22, 2014

    is that it? I see the problem as thai peoples acceptance of corruption and nepotism as a normal and acceptable state of behavior at every level of society. Such friendly people yet astonishingly ignorant about how rotten this feudalistic thinking is for their society.

    All the politicians are as bad as each other, regardless of being red yellow, or part of the military. Thai’s moan about ‘corruption’ but they’ll happily pay a cop to get off a traffic violation or bribe a school teacher to get their kids in. Its endemic throughout most areas of thai society.

    …and where were the new voices of young progressive leaders over the last 6 months? Are they not sick of the nonsense? Can they not see cronyism is counterproductive? It was the perfect opportunity to offer a progressive alternative! Why did no one make a stand? To busy updating their facebook status or taking selfies at the mall. Apathy is a killer too.

    • Joe Jupille May 23, 2014

      But, more substantively. That is a totally fascinating insight. And, if I read it right, it makes sense on three levels: 1) intuition (once you start monkeying with the way we are going to count power, and the distributive spoils that flow from it, it’s on); 2) formalization (awesome); and 3) ex post evidence (the coup of 5/22/2014). Very cool.

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