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.