Thai-Style Democracy : How Well Is It Serving PM Prayuth After 7 Years? 

Thai-Style Democracy : How Well Is It Serving PM Prayuth After 7 Years? 

 Thai-Style Democracy : How Well Is It Serving PM Prayuth After 7 Years? 

Thai-Style Democracy has put PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha in power as government head for 7 years, with a Constitution in place that allows a non-elected outsider to become prime minister.

Thai-style democracy stems from the belief that military intervention is a legitimate and acceptable political mechanism to correct the excesses and malpractices of elected politicians. 

PM Prayuth is not the first to use the term Thai-style democracy but he has proven to be quite adept at producing a hybrid version of democracy, a semi democratic government that bases it’s legitimacy on bringing peace and stability to the country with “clean politics” and “good people”.

The prime minister had said in an earlier speech “Our country cannot afford any more conflicts. We certainly must have democracy but it is a Thai-style democracy. We must not break the rules.”

With a semi-democratic governance, Thailand has been under an autocracy and democracy took a back stand while PM Prayuth stayed in power as an autocrat leader for the past seven years.

However, is Thai-Style Democracy still serving PM Prayuth well in his seventh year?

Earlier, due to the political turmoil which divided the country, most people just wanted peace to enable them to go on with their lives and livelihoods and although, there were anti-government sentiments, people accepted autocracy and waited to see what the government would be able to achieve with their 20 year national plan with the aim of turning Thailand into a developed country by 2037.

Covid-19 changed all that.

Democracy, the silent partner in the system of Thai-style democracy and a ticking time- bomb for the military-backed government is slowly waking up.

Covid-19 pandemic unleashed the sleeping giant of democracy in Thailand once again.

Due to the governments mismanagement of the pandemic, the vaccination campaign and the near collapsed economy, PM Prayuth finds himself in a position that he can no longer rule as an absolute autocrat, presiding over cabinet meetings and giving orders, as powers of all ministries are centralized under him. 

PM Prayuth’s disdain for elected MPs is well-known preferring General Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister and party leader of Palang Pracharath to take the lead and care for the needs and requests of the MPs.

The wake-up call for PM Prayuth came during the censure debate when he almost lost in the no-confidence vote due to a rebel group of MPs led by Thammanat Prompow Secretary General of Palang Pracharath plotting to unseat him.

The realization that he was too detached from the MPs came also with the understanding that ultimately, some MPs wished to distance themselves from him because they would no longer enjoy the support of their constituencies in the next elections as the government under PM Prayuth has had no achievements the MPs can speak of to negate the effects of Covid-19 mismanagement and the economic hardship that ensued from it.

In the end, the MPs have to be elected in a democratic system to be able to nominate him back as Prime Minister. Even with the 250 senators to back up MP Prayuth, Palang Pracharath has to come in as the winner of the next elections or at least a close second to have the legitimacy to form the next government.

The only way PM Prayuth can hope to come back for a third term is to make sure  the economy is fixed and people’s financial problems are alleviated,which is a tall task given not much has been done to encourage other engines of growth besides tourism and exports ,pre-pandemic.

 PM Prayuth needs to deliver on what people want and what people need just like any prime ministerial candidate who wishes to contest in an election in “true democracy” style. 

In the process, he needs to reach out to the MPs and the people.

Recently, PM Prayuth and Deputy PM Prawit were seen hitting the campaign trail almost everyday, touring areas with MPs of Palang Pracharath for that area and trying to build a “connect” with the public.

In a bitter sweet sort of way, democracy is slowly trumping over autocracy but that may not be a bad thing for PM Prayuth.

To get the economy back is hard work and if he is putting in that effort anyway, he should go the extra mile, find the courage to jump in , deliver on his promises, become a member of a party of his choice and run as a candidate for Prime Minister in the next elections.

That would certainly be a win-win scenario for the country, democracy and PM Prayuth.

Written By - Thai Business Box.