Claudio Sopranzetti is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Central European University and the author of Owners of the Map: Motorcycle Taxi Drivers, Mobility, and Politics in Bangkok (University of California Press 2018) and Red Journeys: Inside the Thai Red Shirts (Silkworm Books & University of Washington Press 2012).

The Thai Elections of 2019: the Rise of the Illiberal Middle Classes

In early 2019, Thailand’s military junta held elections for the first time since removing the elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office five years earlier. The elections took place under a new constitution, which gave the coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha an insurmountable advantage. Ironically, some of Prayuth’s strongest supporters were the same middle classes that fought in the streets for democracy in the 1990s. The result is a Thai polity that can only be described as constitutional authoritarianism.

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