Thailand’s turbulent political history

26-Mar-2019 Intellasia | AFP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Violent demonstrations, multiple coups and a cryptic election eve message from the king.

Thailand’s unpredictable political history has few rivals.

The country’s election Sunday is the first since a 2014 coup.

Here is a brief look at two turbulent decades in Thai politics.

– ‘Lost decade’ –

2001Policeman-turned billionaire telecoms magnate Thaksin Shinawatra wins at the polls promising social welfare schemes.

2003A brutal war on drugs kills upwards of 2,500 people. A year later a crackdown in the Muslim-majority Deep South sparks a renewed insurgency.

2005Thaksin repeats electoral triumph, heading up the first civilian administration to complete a four-year term in a history rattled by army takeovers.

2006While at the UN in New York, Thaksin is toppled in bloodless coup. A period of protests and violent clashes ensues and historians dub the prolonged instability the “Lost Decade”.

– Yellow and Red –

2008Thaksin is convicted in absentia on corruption charges he says are politically motivated and flees into self-exile.

Anti-Thaksin protesters known as “Yellow Shirts” storm Bangkok’s airports, shutting them down for over a week to protest a Thaksin ally as premier — who is soon removed.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister after a parliamentary vote.

2009Pro-Thaksin “Red Shirts” storm a regional summit hosted by Thailand demanding elections and forcing participants to flee by helicopter and boat.

2010More than 90 people are killed as the army — led by current junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha — opens fire on Red Shirts protesting in downtown Bangkok.

2011Fresh elections in 2011 see Thaksin’s younger sister Yingluck emerge as Thailand’s first female prime minister.

2014Anti-Yingluck demonstrators hold months-long protests that turn violent. A snap 2014 election is annulled and military seizes power.

– Junta delays, holds vote –

2016Junta leader Prayut oversees a crackdown on dissent and wins a referendum to change the constitution.

Thailand mourns the death of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was seen as a figure of unity over a seven-decade reign.

2017Yingluck flees the country to avoid negligence charges and joins brother in self-exile.

2018Junta announces elections for next year after repeated delays, lifting hopes as new parties emerge.

2019Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn shuts down shock prime ministerial candidacy of older sister Princess Ubolratana, who stood for the Thaksin-linked Thai Raksa Chart party.

March 23, 2019On eve of vote, the king sends another message to Thai citizens, urging them to support “good people” and not those who create “chaos”.


Category: Thailand

Print This Post