The current political crisis in Thailand brings forth several assumptions regarding its emergence. The tumultuous historical background suggests numerous factors playing a role in the present breakdown in Thailand. By shedding light on the historical patterns of political evolution in Thailand, one can possibly help resolve the current conundrum of governance for the present and the future. This article will explain the tumultuous situation in Thailand in the context of three significant questions. What parts of the society comprise the ‘Red Shirts’ and the ‘Yellow Shirts,’ and what are the root causes for such a violent uprising in Thailand? Are there any major economic underpinnings in the political condition since the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997? What are the reasons for the escalation of the protests and how far will it undermine the process of democratization in the region?
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government, but is marked by an important historical dissimilarity from its regional neighbours. Although occupied by Japan during the Second World War, Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonized by Europeans, and also avoided the wave of communist revolutions that took control of the neighbouring governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. Thailand followed a checkered path to democracy, enduring a series of mostly bloodless coups and multiple changes of government in its modern history. Although Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, it was ruled primarily by military dictatorships until the early 1990s.