The Newsletter 70 Spring 2015

Populist policies and the rural-urban divide

Puangthong Pawakapan

On 22 July 2014, two months after a military coup d’etat, the Thai military promulgated an interim constitution signed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. With sweeping powers in the hands of General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the interim constitution’s preamble promises to eradicate corruption and bring ‘reform’ and subsequently ‘genuine democracy’ to Thai society. The NCPO promised its mostly urban middle-class supporters that it would put an end to corrupt politics in all forms. However, with a narrow focus on the corruption of politicians, the question remains whether the interim charter is able to bring genuine democracy, stability, and ‘happiness’ to a deeply polarized society.