Why the Thai Army is So Powerful

Why the Thai Army is So Powerful

Over the past decades, squabbling politicians have become the trademark of Thai politics. The yellow shirts supported by the elites favour a form of guided democracy loyal to the monarchy. The red shirts, backers of political parties loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra have won all the elections since 2001. But the most important political actor wears camo and black: the Thai armed forces. Its 1,600 generals are part of the old establishment that dominates the political space. But they are not allowed to participate in elections. Instead they flex their muscles to oust political rivals. They staged coups in 2006 and 2014 to remove the Shinawatra family from power. Since then, they have had a go at reshaping Thailand’s economic, political and moral order.

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