The Thaksinization of Thailand
by Duncan McCargo and Ukrist Pathmanand
Prior to the 1997 economic crisis, for around 20 years Thai politics was characterized by a pluralistic political order, featuring unstable coalition governments, competing interests, and a gradual displacement of bureaucratic and military influence by the rising power of elected politicians (who in turn were closely linked to a range of business actors). A major reform package was enacted in 1997, coinciding with the promulgation of a new constitution. However, the country's financial problems helped create the conditions for the emergence of the Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thai, or TRT) Party under the leadership of Thaksin Shinawatra, a fabulously wealthy telecommunications magnate often compared with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi. Although presenting itself as a nationalist, transformative party, at heart TRT is little more than a vehicle for the interests and ambitions of its founder-leader. Since winning a landslide election victory in January 2001, Prime Minister Thaksin has exercised an extraordinary degree of personal dominance over the Thai political scene. The emergence of Thaksin and TRT has transformed Thailand's electoral landscape, rendering previous analyses of Thai politics substantially outdated.
This book examines Thaksin's background, his business activities, the emergence of Thai Rak Thai, his relationship with the military, Thaksin's use of rhetoric through media such as radio, his wider political economy networks, and the future direction of Thai politics.
“Much of the book is meticulously arranged, assembling a good range of academic, anecdotal and media material to support a wide-ranging thesis about Thaksin and his influence on Thailand.” “Mccargo and Ukrist have made a special contribution to our understanding of Thaksin and his Thailand.” “…this is essential reading.” - Nicholas Farrelly, The Asian Journal of Social Science, vol. 33, no. 3, 2005
Duncan McCargo is a leading specialist on the politics of Thailand, his books include the best-selling Thaksinization of Thailand (co-authored), the award-winning Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand, and most recently Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand.
Ukrist Pathmanand is Research Professor in Political Science at the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, and co-author of the acclaimed Thaksinization of Thailand. Both editors have written widely on Thai politics and society, and recently co-authored the article “Thailand’s Public Secret: Military Wealth and the State”, which appears in the Journal of Contemporary Asia.
Publication year: 2004
286 pp / 214mm x 137mm
4 charts, 5 tables
ISBN: 978-87-91114-46-5, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-91114-45-8, Hardback