Year published :October 2010

Pages :340 (xii+328) pp.

Size :15x23 cm.

ISBN: 9789749511978

Legitimacy Crisis in Thailand

by Marc Askew

Intense political polarization, confrontation and violence have rocked Thailand recently, much of it a divisive legacy of the 2006 coup. Conflicts centre on the legitimacy of institutions and the uses and abuses of power alongside the parallel crisis of state legitimacy posed by the ongoing violence in the country’s Deep South. This collection of essays explores themes and issues arising from the continuing confrontations that have dominated Thailand’s domestic affairs and affected its international relations in the years 2008 to early 2010. Based on extensive research and documentation, this volume offers an important review and analysis of key events and trends in Thailand’s volatile public affairs during this period.

The book brings together essays by Thai specialists as well as Western scholars on pivotal topics connected to Thailand’s current legitimacy crisis. It begins with a lively narrative of major events and in subsequent chapters covers the politicization of the Khao Phra Wihan (Preah Vihear) temple issue; the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its “New Politics”; the politicization of the Thai media; the revived role of the Thai military in influencing politics and governance; and the challenge of the persistent unrest in Thailand’s south. The book concludes with an insightful analysis of the key challenges facing the country politically, institutionally and economically. The events of March–May 2010, which saw a dramatic face off between the red-shirt movement and the government, are discussed in an afterword.

This collection is published as volume 5 in the yearbook series of King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Thailand.

About the editor

Marc Askew is Senior Fellow in Anthropology in the School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry, University of Melbourne. During 2008–09, he was Distinguished Senior Research Fellow at King Prajadhipok’s Institute. His current research focuses on the dynamics of conflict in Thailand’s southern border provinces. In addition to chapters, journal and newspaper articles, his recent publications include Conspiracy, Politics and a Disorderly Border: The Struggle to Comprehend Insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South (2007) and Performing Political Identity: The Democrat Party in Southern Thailand (2008).


  • Offers a penetrating and insightful analysis of Thailand’s volatile political affairs during 2008–2010
  • Based on extensive research and documentation by both Thai and Western scholars
  • Explores ongoing conflicts in Thai society, including those involving the “red shirts” and “yellow shirts”
  • Illustrates how the ongoing violence in the Muslim south continues to pose a challenge to state legitimacy
  • Places Thailand’s political affairs in comparative perspective


Related files


Thailand | legitimacy crisis | ideological confrontation | political violence | crowd politics