Table of Contents

The crux of polarization in Thailand is a sharp division between two worldviews that seek incompatible political orders. The royal nationalist worldview regards the Thai king as the country’s legitimate ruler; the competing democratic outlook contends that sovereignty resides with the Thai people. This clash can be traced back to Thailand’s unfinished regime transition of 1932, but tensions have intensified dramatically over the past fifteen years, as the warring camps have weaponized tit-for-tat protests and politicized supposedly independent institutions. Relentless political conflict has split Thai society down the middle, undermining social cohesion and fueling tensions even in moments of crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.

Ultimately, the country’s political conflict has morphed into an identity struggle, in which identification with one bloc is based on opposing the values and interests of the other side. The royal nationalists, in particular, view the democrats as an existential threat, and their fears have led them to scrap electoral democracy altogether. Their ongoing repression of prodemocratic networks has not only reinforced Thailand’s toxic polarization but also plunged the country deeper into authoritarianism.

The crux of polarization in Thailand is a sharp division between two worldviews that seek incompatible political orders.


The roots of Thailand’s current bout with polarization date back to the 1932 revolution, when the political role of the king became a subject of fierce political contestation. Thailand has one of the few monarchies in the world that has retained immense political power even into the twenty-first century. A principal reason for the king’s enduring influence is the construction of a royal nationalist ideology, which has mixed historical myths and Buddhist narratives to win popular acceptance of monarchical rule. This ideology has enhanced the king’s political legitimacy by placing him at the top of a hierarchical social order as the soul of the nation. Perceived as natural and fixed, this hierarchy also provides a justification for socioeconomic inequality; according to this ideology, charismatic, powerful, and wealthy figures are associated with merits accumulated in their past lives, in accordance with a certain interpretation of Buddhist teachings.1

The royal nationalist establishment has faced ideological challenges in three key episodes, all of which have featured sharp polarization. The first episode began in 1932, when young bureaucrats, mostly inspired by the French model of popular revolution, seized power from King Prajadhipok and introduced a constitutional monarchy. The new government sought to transform Thailand into a more egalitarian polity, based on principles of representative democracy, individual autonomy, and equal rights. In essence, the leaders of the revolution envisioned a new notion of sovereignty: “the country [would belong] to the people, not the king.”2 The dichotomy between these hierarchical and egalitarian visions of political order that emerged in this period has powerfully shaped Thailand’s two clashing national identities today. Whereas one side embraces the power of the monarchy, national pride, and the uniqueness of being Thai, the other champions social and economic equality as well as liberal, cosmopolitan values.3

Janjira Sombatpoonsiri
Janjira Sombatpoonsiri is an associate fellow at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies and a researcher at the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Her research focuses on civil society and civic space, the politics of nonviolent struggle, and conflict transformation. She is a member of the Carnegie Endowment’s Civic Research Network.

The second major episode began with the emergence of a new threat to the monarchy: communism. Communism gained traction among workers and rural farmers who had long suffered from entrenched inequality, and in 1959, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat staged a coup to overthrow a revolutionary-led government. Alarmed by the collapse of monarchies across Southeast Asia, he reinvented royal nationalism and systematically propagated it through national media outlets to counter the communist threat. This version 2.0 of royal nationalism depicted the king as a dedicated leader who fostered political stability and rural development. In this new ideological vision, the king was constitutionally above politics, but culturally he was endowed with the moral authority to intervene in politics in times of crisis.4 Furthermore, the notion of royal morality was deliberately contrasted with the corruption of democratically elected politicians, and this rhetoric contributed to growing mistrust of electoral democracy within the Thai establishment.

By the end of the Cold War in 1991, royal nationalism had become deeply rooted, and its supporters had found ways to tame democracy. Through their expansive networks within the palace as well as the state bureaucracy, military, and private sector, advocates of royal nationalism occupied “reserve domains,” or bastions of nondemocratic political power, that allowed them to constrain the elected government’s control over the passage, implementation, and enforcement of its own policies.5 This veto power remained unchallenged until the emergence of the third threat to the monarchy in the early 2000s.


The current wave of polarization in Thailand began in 2001, when the tycoon-turned-politician Thaksin Shinawatra swept into power and introduced a populist-capitalist revolution that challenged the dominance of the palace. His political party, Thai Rak Thai (TRT), won a landslide victory in the country’s 2001 elections, and its innovative policies quickly won the support of rural Thai voters, who increasingly had migrated to urban areas or other countries in search of better lives. For these “urbanized” or “cosmopolitan” villagers, the TRT’s provision of universal healthcare, agrarian debt relief, and village funds was seen as a source of not merely social mobility but also social dignity.6 For this reason, the most economically marginalized regions of northern and northeastern Thailand became TRT strongholds.

The royalist establishment viewed Thaksin’s ascent as a threat.

The royalist establishment, however, viewed Thaksin’s ascent as a threat for two reasons. First, his fast-growing popularity began to rival that of the king, long seen as the champion of Thailand’s rural poor. And second, the TRT’s efforts to promote social mobility challenged the hierarchical worldview of Thailand’s establishment, which feared that radical economic change might reconfigure the country’s social hierarchy and even encourage a grassroots rebellion.7

Beyond royal nationalist circles, some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and segments of academia were hostile to TRT policies deemed to embolden global capitalism at the expense of communal sustainability. In addition, the urban middle class increasingly came to view Thaksin’s social mobility policies as economically irresponsible and populist measures that were akin to vote buying.8 By 2005, the prime minister’s diverse range of critics—from royal nationalists and NGOs to Bangkok’s middle class and the trade unions—had coalesced to form an anti-Thaksin network.9 The subsequent clashes between anti- and pro-establishment blocs would set Thailand on a path of intensifying polarization.

The Birth of the Yellow Shirts and the 2006 Coup (2005–2006)

Anti-Thaksin forces banded together in 2005 under the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), whose campaigns set the polarizing tone of subsequent conflict. Despite its diverse composition, the movement’s royalist leaders were most vocal and accused Thaksin of opposing the monarchy. They encouraged supporters to wear yellow t-shirts—yellow being the color associated with King Rama IX’s birthday in traditional Thai culture—in order to display their loyalty to the monarchy. The PAD’s use of royal symbolism attracted a critical mass of support, and the movement vociferously demanded the use of the royal prerogative to sack Thaksin.

As pro- and anti-Thaksin protests intensified, the prime minister called for snap elections in April 2006, seeking to restore his mandate. He again won at the polls, but an opposition boycott undercut the legitimacy of his victory, and the royalist establishment moved swiftly to corner Thaksin. The Constitutional Court annulled the election results, and meanwhile, in a military gathering, a leading member of the king’s Privy Council delivered a speech reminding the army of its allegiance to the monarch. In September 2006, amid rising political tensions, the army staged a coup, which half the country’s population applauded as a “good coup.”10 Thaksin subsequently went into exile and began masterminding the emerging political movement against the royalist establishment.

The Rise of the Red Shirts and Judicial Coups (2007–2008)

The 2006 putsch, followed by the Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the TRT and ban its politicians from running again, enraged TRT supporters and democracy advocates, who coalesced behind a wave of anticoup activism. Led by TRT politicians-turned-activists, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) mobilized constituents to oppose the military junta and pressure it to hold an election.

This activism sharpened the identity conflict underlying Thai polarization in two ways. First, by denouncing the coup as an elite-led, undemocratic intervention, UDD activists framed themselves as advocates for electoral democracy. They later adopted the color red as a symbol of the democratic struggle. Second, the UDD criticized the social hierarchy that royalist elites were defending by defining themselves as “prai,” or peasants, who had revolted against the injustice of “ammart,” or aristocrats. “Prai” is, in fact, a taboo word with negative connotations, but the red shirts’ proud adoption of the term was intended to challenge and subvert Thailand’s traditional social hierarchy.11

When the December 2007 elections resulted in a victory for a Thaksin-backed party, the former prime minister’s opponents mobilized once again. The PAD took to the streets, creating a crisis of governance, and the Constitutional Court disbanded the Thaksin-affiliated party in 2008. This decision allowed the Democrat Party, a long-time ally of the royalist establishment, to lead the government coalition, setting in motion one of the most violent confrontations in Thai political history.

Street Violence and Dehumanization (2009–2010)

The red shirts’ prolonged and disruptive street protests against the Democrat-led government resulted in a crackdown in 2009. When the movement resumed mass protests in 2010, militant factions had become much more prominent. The red shirts’ increased vandalism, the yellow shirts’ counterprotests, and the ruling elite’s growing reliance on the military inevitably created a political impasse.

Toxic political discourse within both camps dramatically escalated polarization. Red shirts were branded as unwashed and unintelligent (kwai daeng), while yellow shirts were labeled as royalist fascists (salim). In this context, the establishment became convinced that the red shirts were plotting to topple the monarchy, and after an armed attack on a yellow shirt counterprotest, the army received a mandate to cleanse Bangkok of the rural “unwashed” protesters.

The military fired on them, killing more than ninety red shirts.12 In retaliation, the latter allegedly set fire to a Bangkok mall and a government building in northeastern Thailand, and the establishment thus portrayed the red shirts as “city destroyers” (phao baan phao meung).13 The violent clampdown further severed the red shirts’ emotional ties with the monarchy, creating a deep ideological rift with the establishment.14

Protest-cum-Coup and Persistent Polarization (2011–present)

Although the current phase of polarization in Thailand has featured a similar pattern of mass protests and elite repression, this time the establishment has sought to secure its dominance by uprooting electoral democracy altogether. In the 2011 elections, the Thaksin-supported party, currently known as Pheu Thai, won a majority in the lower house, but its proposal for an amnesty law that could have facilitated the former prime minister’s return from exile sparked renewed protests.

The PAD regrouped in 2013 and rebranded itself as the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which widened its targets to include not only Thaksin and Pheu Thai but also electoral democracy itself. PDRC leaders contended that democracy empowered corrupt and venal politicians, consistent with the yellow shirts’ view that the supposedly unintelligent red shirts were not capable of electing virtuous leaders. The PDRC thus rejected egalitarian principles and defended a hierarchical social order, in which a deserving upper class exercises greater power. Figure 2 visualizes the pro- and anti-establishment cleavages that developed in Thailand from 2005 to 2014.

With the country again in a state of political crisis, the Pheu Thai government called for early elections in 2014, yet this decision only precipitated a fresh standoff. The PDRC organized a nationwide blockade of polling stations, leading the Constitutional Court to declare the election results void.15 Meanwhile, violent clashes broke out between PDRC armed guards and red shirt activists. Between late January and mid-May 2014, more than thirty bombings and/or attacks reportedly took place near PDRC protest sites, with one incident killing a five-year-old child.16 The PDRC accused the red shirts of orchestrating this violence, and the Thai public increasingly feared that the country was on the brink of civil war. In May 2014, the army staged a coup and again assumed political power.

The yellow shirts predictably commended this intervention, while the red shirts criticized it as a step toward military dictatorship. The army claimed that it was nonpartisan, but after the putsch, it unleashed a widespread crackdown on red shirt activists. As a result, after five years of military rule between 2014 and 2019, the red shirt movement has virtually vanished.17 Nonetheless, anti-establishment sentiments and polarization persist, as was evident in the country’s 2019 elections, in which the pro-establishment Palang Pracharath Party and the opposition coalition were neck and neck. The undemocratic design of Thailand’s new constitution prevented opposition parties from forming a government, even though they won a majority of the vote.18

Today, Pheu Thai remains the strongest opposition party in Thailand, but the Future Forward Party (FFP) briefly emerged as a new anti-establishment force that offered an alternative to both electoral clientelism and royal nationalism. Representing young and middle-class constituents fed up with authoritarianism and the divide between red and yellow shirts, the party won eighty out of 350 seats in the lower house and became the third-most popular party in the 2019 elections.19 Its fast-growing popularity intimidates the royalist establishment, which has sought to paint the FFP as opposed to the monarchy and has filed charges against it for numerous alleged crimes, from concocting a republican conspiracy to violating electoral regulations. The latter charge led the Constitutional Court to dissolve the FFP in February 2020 and ban its leaders from politics for ten years.20 The decision was yet another loss for hopes of greater democracy in Thailand, and it left FFP supporters feeling disheartened and furious over the Thai elite’s disregard for their voices.

Enduring Divisions Amid the Pandemic

The political, economic, and societal strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic have had a mixed impact on Thailand’s decades-old divide.21 On the one hand, the pandemic has changed existing dynamics of polarization by creating divisions inside the pro-establishment camp. Leaders in the public health sector, traditionally staunch allies of the establishment, have publicly criticized the government for its sluggish, inept response. Supporters of the monarchy have also voiced rare criticism of the palace for failing to play a larger role in alleviating the crisis, per the example set by the previous king. The urban middle class, too, has lost trust in the government after numerous corruption scandals related to the pandemic.22 As a result of the government’s poor management of public health and economic policies, politically disparate groups now have shared grievances against the establishment.

On the other hand, the country’s existing ideological divide has hindered meaningful cross-camp cooperation at both the elite and societal levels. Pro- and anti-establishment civil society groups have launched their own separate charitable programs and at times have even discredited the other side’s efforts.23 The pandemic has reignited debates over clashing notions of Thai identity as well. Anti-establishment voices have attributed the government’s poor pandemic response to its exclusive understanding of Thai identity, and these criticisms have provoked pushback from pro-establishment supporters, who argue that their conception of national identity is instrumental to forging a sense of unity during the crisis.24

Ideological divisions have also contributed to polarized attitudes toward quarantine measures and economic aid for the poor. Whereas the pro-establishment camp has tended to support an authoritarian approach to lockdowns and the government’s declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020, liberal groups within the anti-establishment bloc have argued that the public health crisis should not supersede basic rights. Similarly, those in the anti-establishment camp mostly sympathize with poorer Thais, while some conservatives, who view wealth as a sign of spiritual merit, oppose the idea of providing unconditional economic assistance to the poor. The coronavirus thus has highlighted how Thailand’s deeply rooted and immensely powerful ideological cleavages are creating divided perceptions of the crisis, even when many frustrations are shared.


Five key factors have driven Thailand’s recent wave of polarization. The first and most fundamental is the legacy of the 1932 regime transition. Although the transition created a constitutional monarchy, the notion of Thai sovereignty remained linked to the king, whose legitimacy remained embedded within the country’s social fabric. The 1932 revolution thus did not clearly establish whether sovereignty resides ultimately with the king or with the people, and this unanswered question has fueled polarization between establishment and anti-establishment forces ever since.

Second, political reforms in the 1990s created paradoxes that provoked a clash between new and royalist elites. On the one hand, the 1997 constitution included a winner-take-all electoral formula that strengthened large parties like the TRT and gave new democratic elites greater power to challenge the establishment. The new electoral system also left the Democrat Party—the traditional defender of the royalist establishment—weakened in the parliament. On the other hand, the 1997 constitution also created robust checks and balances on the ruling party. These checks became a channel through which the Thai establishment could exercise veto power over the country’s new democratic elites, particularly through the Constitutional Court.25 The 1997 constitution thus set the stage for a struggle between empowered democratic parties and royalist state institutions.

Third, economic and cultural shifts affecting much of Thailand’s population have fostered increasing mass support for new elites like Thaksin. As a result of the country’s economic opening in the 1990s, those from the provinces have become increasingly connected to global markets. This liberalization unsettled Thailand’s rigid socioeconomic hierarchy, as the rural poor could strive to move up the social ladder and seek new opportunities. They have voted for leaders who share this vision, and their growing resistance to existing hierarchies has distressed not only royalist elites but also many Thais who still identify with the establishment.

Fourth, weaponized mass mobilization has added fuel to the fire. Both sides have relied on mass protests and have used them to push for maximalist demands (usually the resignation of a prime minister or new elections). As expected, the government in power at any given time has rejected such demands and often has mobilized counterprotests of its own. As conflicts have intensified, political demands have morphed into principle-based positions, on which protesters have refused to compromise. The two sides have stepped up their protests, thus exacerbating mutual antagonisms and setting the stage for violent clashes between armed factions of each camp. With every violent protest that occurs, the gulf widens, as traumatized victims blame the opposing side.

Lastly, traditional and social media have aggravated polarization by facilitating mass mobilization, creating partisan information bubbles, and reinforcing feelings of self-righteousness. It is notable that two media moguls, Sonthi Limthongkul and Thaksin, led the PAD and UDD, respectively. Both blocs used their own partisan television channels and media platforms as weapons to propagate their respective agendas and discredit the other side.26 In addition, both the red and yellow shirts have their own social media accounts, which became breeding grounds for hate speech and vigilante activism when mass demonstrations reached their peak.27 Ultimately, this color-coded media landscape has created echo chambers in which the two camps only hear information that reinforces their partisan views.


An immediate outcome of Thailand’s latest twenty-year bout with polarization has been democratic erosion and two democratic breakdowns in 2006 and 2014. Although the red shirts often perceive themselves as democratic, their politics are majoritarian and at times illiberal, as exemplified by Thaksin’s record of human rights violations.28 Establishment elites, in turn, have exploited the former prime minister’s democratic deficits to discredit democracy altogether and stoke middle-class fears about being subjected to rule by the different socioeconomic classes that the red shirts represent.

Thailand’s current constitution epitomizes the establishment’s efforts to rig electoral democracy in its favor.

Thailand’s current constitution epitomizes the establishment’s efforts to rig electoral democracy in its favor. Electoral rules are designed to weaken the party system, civil society, electoral integrity, and popular representativeness in the Senate. In effect, while Thailand has resumed elections, political competition is neither free nor fair. This autocratization has bred polarization, as intense repression of the opposition since 2014 has reaffirmed the divide between royalist autocrats who are rewarded and democratic traitors who are oppressed.

Polarization has also fragmented civil society, making cross-camp solidarity difficult to achieve. For a while, civil society organizations were divided into yellow and red shirt camps, with the former comprising mainly development NGOs and unions and the latter consisting of prodemocracy and human rights organizations. Each blamed the other for being handmaidens of elites. In particular, red shirt NGOs struggled to forgive their yellow shirt counterparts after the latter’s inaction during the Thai military’s 2010 crackdown. This rift hindered any collective action powerful enough to counter the aftermath of the country’s 2014 coup. Although many yellow shirt NGOs have now turned against the establishment, years of polarization have eroded trust and a sense of solidarity within Thailand’s fragmented civil society landscape.

Lastly, political rifts have taken a toll on personal relationships and social cohesion more broadly. At the peak of the protests, Thais often chose to unfriend people on Facebook who expressed opposing political views, and this virtual unfriending at times damaged real-life relationships. Those reluctant to show their color-coded allegiance often were forced to choose a side or risk being shunned. Family members and colleagues frequently avoided discussing politics altogether to maintain domestic or workplace harmony. Five years under the military junta may have diluted red and yellow shirt identities in Thailand, but an ideological rift lingers: In January 2020, for instance, the country again witnessed parallel establishment and anti-establishment protests.29

Remedial Actions

A few official initiatives have attempted to breach or at least narrow the political divide. The first is the special parliamentary National Reconciliation Committee, established after the Thai military’s 2010 crackdown to investigate its causes and consequences. The committee’s report served as a blueprint for the government’s compensation of victims, as well as policies to address protesters’ grievances.30 The report, however, drew criticism, particularly from red shirts, who were identified in the report as partly contributing to the violence that year.

In parallel, civil society groups and academics drafted their own report on “Truth for Justice,” the findings of which highlighted the excessive use of military force as the main cause of the violence.31 The two reports thus reinforced color-coded narratives and failed to heal the country’s divide. Most importantly, Pheu Thai exploited the committee’s recommendations regarding political amnesty in an effort to facilitate Thaksin’s return, sparking royalist demonstrations in 2013–2014 that ultimately provided a basis of support for the country’s most recent military coup.

The second official effort was carried out in 2015 by the National Reform Council’s Committee to Study Approaches on Reconciliation under the purview of the military-led government. Critics of this committee alleged that it failed to represent the voices of those affected by political violence or create effective mechanisms to heal the country’s divide. Worse, many felt that the rhetoric of reconciliation was only a veil for ongoing repression. The Internal Security Operations Command, a security organ affiliated with the Thai military, established centers in Thai villages ostensibly to promote reconciliation by “teaching people to live together harmoniously” and educating them about the importance of the monarchy.32 However, only red shirts in northern and northeastern Thailand were told to join the program, a fact that betrayed the initiative’s implicit bias.

Finally, civil society groups have launched various initiatives, albeit with limited impact. Among others, the Peace Witness Group served as a third party present at protest sites to deescalate conflicts between protesters and the police, as well as between protesters and counterprotesters. Yet polarization was so toxic that both red and yellow shirts were suspicious of the group’s presence and motives. Similarly, Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies mediated a series of peace-focused dialogues between leading yellow and red shirt activists, but these efforts could not prevent clashes in 2010 or 2013–2014.

With Thailand’s vicious cycle of authoritarian politics exacerbating resentment against the establishment, polarization continues to fester. A first step toward meaningful reconciliation may entail overcoming the country’s authoritarian atmosphere and recognizing that the opposing sides have different political visions for Thailand. Differences do not necessarily have to be adversarial.


1 Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, World Conqueror and World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand Against a Historical Background (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

2 Federico Ferrara, The Political Development of Modern Thailand (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 5.

3 Naruemon Thabchumpon, Jakkrit Sangkhamanee, Carl Middleton, and Weera Wongsatjachock, “The Polarization of Thai Democracy: The Asian Democracy Index in Thailand,” Asian Democracy Review 3 (2014): 68.

4 Thak Chaloemtiarana, Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2007).

5 Duncan McCargo, “Network Monarchy and Legitimacy Crises in Thailand,” Pacific Review 18, no. 4 (2005): 499–519.

6 Naruemon Thabchumpon and Duncan McCargo, “Urbanized Villagers in the 2010 Thai Redshirt Protests: Not Just Poor Farmers?” Asian Survey 51, no. 6 (2011): 993–1018; and Charles Keyes, “‘Cosmopolitan’ Villagers and Populist Democracy in Thailand,” South East Asia Research 20, no. 3 (2012): 343–360.

7 Claudio Sopranzetti, Owners of the Map: Motorcycle Taxi Drivers, Mobility, and Politics in Bangkok (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018).

8 Thorn Pitidol, “Redefining Democratic Discourse in Thailand’s Civil Society,” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46, no. 3 (2016): 520–537; and Kevin Hewison, “Reluctant Populists: Learning Populism in Thailand,” International Political Science Review 38, no. 4 (2017): 426–440.

9 Thitinan Pongsudhirak, “Thailand Since the Coup,” Journal of Democracy 19, no. 4 (2008): 140–153.

10 Michael K. Connors and Kevin Hewison, “Introduction: Thailand and the ‘Good Coup,’” Journal of Contemporary Asia 38, no. 1 (2008): 1–10.

11 Uchane Chiangsaen, “The Origin of Red Shirts as Counter-Movement,” Fah Diew Kan 9, no. 3 (2010): 90–106.

12 Michael J. Montesano, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, and Aekapol Chongvilaivan eds., Bangkok, May 2010: Perspectives on a Divided Thailand (Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2012).

13 In 2019, the courts acquitted the red shirts of charges of arson in relation to a Bangkok mall.

14 Anonymous, “Anti-Royalism in Thailand Since 2006: Ideological Shifts and Resistance,” Journal of Contemporary Asia 48, no. 3 (2018): 363–394.

15 Prajak Kongkirati, “Thailand’s Failed 2014 Election: The Anti-Election Movement, Violence, and Democratic Breakdown,” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46, no. 3 (2016): 467–485.

16 Terry Fredrickson, “2 PDRC Rally Sites Bombed, 4 Killed, Dozens Injured,” Bangkok Post, February 24, 2014,; and Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, “Securitization of Civil Resistance: Thailand’s Military Junta and Beyond,” Journal of Resistance Studies 1, no. 2 (2015): 91–92.

17 Tanet Charoenmuang, “The Red Shirts and Their Democratic Struggle in Northern Thailand, April 2010 to May 2015,” ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Trends in Southeast Asia, no. 11, 2016.

18 Grant Peck, “Final Election Results Leave Thailand Divided,” Diplomat, May 10, 2019, 2019/05/final-election-results-leave-thailand-divided.

19 Joel Selway, “Why Thailand’s Top Court Just Dissolved a Political Party,” Washington Post, March 9, 2020,

20 Ibid.

21 For a more detailed analysis of how the pandemic has affected polarization in Thailand, from which this chapter draws, see Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, “Thailand: Shared Frustrations, Enduring Divisions,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 28, 2020,

22 Pravit Rojanaphruk, “Minister’s Aide Accused of Hoarding, Selling Millions of Masks to China,” Khaosod English, March 9, 2020,

23 “Thanathorn’s Family Churns Out Free Equipment for Rural Hospitals,” Khaosod English, April 22, 2020,

24 “‘อัษฎางค์’ปรบมือให้คนไทยร่วมสู้‘โควิด’ ติงพวกชังชาติอย่าเหยียดหยามชาติตัวเอง” [Atsadang applauds Thai people for fighting Covid], Naewna, April 14, 2020,

25 Eugénie Mérieau, “Thailand’s Deep State, Royal Power, and the Constitutional Court,” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46, no. 3 (2016): 445–466.

26 Malinee Khumsupa, “Divided Virtual Politics: Micro-Counter Transcripts in Thailand,” Advances in Social Science, Education, and Humanities Research 165 (2018): 400–403.

27 Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, “Manipulating Civic Spaces: Cyber Trolling in Thailand and the Philippines,” GIGA Focus Asia, no. 3, October 2018,

28 Chaiwat Satha-Anand, “Fostering Authoritarian Democracy: The Effect of Violent Solutions in Southern Thailand,” in Empire and Neoliberalism in Asia, Vedi R. Hadiz ed. (London: Routledge, 2006), 169–187.

29 “Most People Support Run Against Prayuth,” Bangkok Post, January 5, 2020,

30 Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand, “Final Report of Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT), July 2010 – July 2012,” July 2012.

31 Center for Collecting Data of Victims of the April-May Crackdown, Truth for Justice: Events and Consequences of the 2010 Crackdown (Bangkok: Phabphim, 2012).

32 Siwach Sripokangkul, “Subversion of Transitional Justice in Thailand: Transitional Injustice in the Case of the ‘Red Shirts,’” International Journal of Human Rights 23, no. 10 (2019): 1673–1692.