Thailand's Struggle for Democracy
New democracies have significant challenges in their struggle to create a lasting democracy, and Thailand is no exception. Although Thailand has many critical components necessary for a democracy, it has significant obstacles that are impeding its ability to create a lasting democracy. Indeed, Thailand has undergone 17 coups since 1932 with the most recent one occurring in 2006. Understanding the fundamental principles of what makes a democracy exist can help us understand whether Thailand is in fact a democracy today, and, if so, what kind of a democracy and whether it is one that will endure.This thesis first explores the central elements needed in a democracy and then addresses what components are necessary for democratic consolidation, which is the process by which a fledgling democracy emerges into a stable, mature democracy. The thesis will then use this analysis as a framework for analyzing Thailand's democratic landscape and its potential for democractic consolidation.The analysis of Thailand's democracy suggests the country has some central elements of a democracy, such as free and fair elections. Thailand also has some hallmarks of democratic consolidation, including a strong democratic culture among its citizens and robust economic growth. However, Thailand lacks several significant elements necessary in a democracy, such as freedom of expression, an independent judiciary, and a civilian-controlled military. Moreover, Thailand's democratic consolidation is hindered by the use of non-democratic institutions to resolve conflicts, economic inequalities, and the significant influence of the military in the country's politics. Until these issues are resolved, Thailand's democracy is unlikely to consolidate in the near future.
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