Longevity and the military dictatorship

25 11 2015

Readers may find this paper at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies:

Protracted Period in Power Can Prove Perilous for Thailand’s Military Government

By Puangthong Pawakapan (Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University)

Executive Summary:

  • The rejection of the draft constitution by the National Reform Council in September has effectively delayed the next general election. No doubt the prolongation of the military government’s time in office provides an opportunity for it to consolidate power, but it also creates a challenge for the junta as well.
  • Its endeavour to re-establish the old elite’s domination over electoral politics by way of a new constitution is no easy task. Despite the military leaders’ distrust of politicians, cooperation and negotiation with major political parties are vital to their pursuit.
  • How soon the Thai people can have an election depends on how secure the old powers feel with the new political game and how well the royal succession goes.
  • On observation, the longer the junta stays in power, the more serious missteps it tends to take. Its incompetence in handling complex issues, both domestically and internationally, has quickly eroded its credibility.
  • But while the junta may be in a weak position, its opponents are showing themselves to be much weaker and more deeply divided.