Spring of Hope or Winter of Despair? - Social Democratic movement in Thailand after the 2019 election under the rise of monopoly capital

Lunch talk by Sustarum Thammaboosadee, PhD, College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand

Chair: Yosef Kamal Ibssa, Dept. of Sociology, UCPH


On March 24, 2019, Thailand held its first general election since the military seized power from the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. For much of history, Thailand’s modern political history is one of periodic upheavals, coups d’état, and aborted democratic experiments. The military junta led by Prayuth Chanocha promised to restore peace and harmony in the country and to allow political elections within one or two years. After years of delay, the long awaited general election was held on March 24, 2019. However, like in the past, instead of a turning point to a liberal democracy, Thailand again missed the opportunity as the military appointed senators elected the former military General and coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chanocha, as the new prime minister. The country appears to be converging on a democratic-authoritarian hybrid, where the military still controls important government functions and a perpetual quota of Parliament seats. Moreover, before returning the power to a civilian government, the army tried to complete a comprehensive reform of Thai politics and the economy, thus enforcing a new constitution, creating new parties and promoting a long-term neo-liberal economic strategy, which undoubtedly will hurt the Thai people differently. At the same time, there is hope among young people that with the election of the Future Forward Party (FFP) as the third largest political party in the parliament, that this party may, reduce the role of the military and inequality and help to achieve a social democratic agenda and universal welfare in Thailand.

So what are the major take away points of the 2019 Thai elections? This talk explores the transition from the military into civilian rule and assesses the quality of democracy in Thailand under the recent Prayuth Chanocha government.


Sustarum Thammaboosadee is an assistant professor and on the committee of Philosophy Politics and Economics B.A. Program, at the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University. He received his PhD in Political Science and International Relations in 2013. In the past Dr. Thammaboosadee published both in Thai and English on the impact of neo-liberalism on Thai societies. He recently published a book “A walk to the stars: Thai capitalism under neoliberalism and its unreachable dream’ in 2016. The book’s main argument utilizes welfare-state model as solution for risk society under Neoliberalism.

All are welcome. Feel free to bring your own lunch.