Harnessing monarchs in “election” campaigning

21 10 2018

Demonstrating loyalty has been a hallmark of the monarchy for decades. Unelected politicians, all military leaders or military pawns, have demonstrated loyalty to the throne, none more obsequiously than Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. Displays of loyalty have been about defining a narrow and hierarchical politics for Thailand where the monarchy has been positioned as the keystone of the polity.

Except for some very short periods when freedom of speech allowed real debate and where politicians were pushed from below, elected politicians have also been required to adjust themselves to the straitjacket of monarchy-defined politics.

The Dictator has made his career from his proximity to the palace. It is therefore no surprise that as a prime minister campaigning for that position following his junta’s rigged election, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has campaigned by demonstrating and demanding loyalty.

He’s making King Chulalongkorn Day a major event and asked people to “wear pink on King Chulalongkorn Memorial Day [this] Tuesday.” The Dictator “said wearing pink is a way of commemorating the great king who is credited with abolishing slavery, reforming the bureaucracy and modernising the country’s infrastructure.”

He was the most absolute of kings, something The Dictator appreciates.

The junta has designed “religious events and ceremonies…, beginning with morning alms giving to monks, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Royal Plaza, and an evening candle-light vigil at the Sanam Luang.”

All of this royalism shines a light on the prime minister campaigning to be prime minister after the rigged election.



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