Thomas Pepinsky, an expert on Southeast Asia politics and emerging market economies in that region and associate professor of Government at Cornell University, warns that a simple class-conflict analysis of the escalating crisis in Thailand misses the deeper problem that is plaguing Southeast Asia’s second largest economic power.
The Thai political crisis is about more than just competing policy platforms – loosely embodied by the conservative Bangkok middle class versus the rural poor who support the Shinawatra government – it is about the procedures through which Thailand chooses its leaders.
“This makes the current crisis a particularly volatile situation: because the very legitimacy of elections themselves is now in question, there is no way for the election results to establish the legitimacy of any government. It also means that the endgame is also nearly impossible to predict. Even a military coup – a frustratingly common occurrence in modern Thailand – could not put an end to the crisis.