Extreme Inequality, Democratisation and Class Struggles in Thailand

WID.world Issue Brief 2019-1
Thanasak Jenmana, Amory Gethin

Thailand is finally set to have a general election on 24 March 2019 after five years of military government and a long period of political uncertainty. In this note, we argue that a main source of political instability is brought by Thailand’s extreme levels of income, wealth and regional inequalities, as well as by the rising politicisation of class conflicts around redistributive issues which followed the Asian Financial Crisis.

The post-1997 party politics successfully put an end to a long period of rising income disparities, but Thailand remains one of the most unequal societies in the world today. Most importantly, class cleavages can be seen in voting behaviours and party identification, but not so in terms of preference for democracy and political ideologies.