Why Did Thailand's Middle Class Turn Against a Democratically Elected Government? The Information-Gap Hypothesis
Democratization 19.6 (2012): 1138-1165
50 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 20, 2015
In 2006, Bangkok middle-class residents overwhelmingly supported the military coup that displaced the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Survey research shows that opponents of Thaksin had a stronger commitment to liberal democracy and possibly to royalist values while rural voters supported Thaksin because he fulfilled their social demands. Opposition to Thaksin was not motivated by economic interests, but rather, there is some evidence that urban middle- and upper-class voters disliked Thaksin because they heard negative reporting about him, which were less available in the countryside. These findings are compatible with a new theory of democratic consolidation, in which the upper classes have the means that would enable and encourage them to pay sufficient attention to politics to discover that what they viewed as “good government” was violated by the ruling party, which could have led to demands for more democracy historically. More recently, however, in Thailand and perhaps other instances in Southeast Asia and Latin America, those with the money and leisure to follow politics closely have heard reports about the “bad government” of populist, democratically elected leaders, and thus have turned against them.
Keywords: Thailand, Democratic Consolidation, Information-Gap Hypothesis, Social Movements, Middle Class, Media and Public Opinion, Thaksin Shinawatra, PAD, Military Coup
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