De-thaksinizing thailand: The limits of institutional design

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Almost two decades after the initial victory of Thai Rak Thai, scholars still debate the forces behind Thaksin's rise to power. I revisit these debates and argue for a more explicit analysis of dynamics over time. I distinguish analytically between the founding moment of TRT's first victory and the subsequent reproduction of its dominance. I argue that TRT's financial muscle was a sufficient condition for its 2001 victory, that institutions merely contributed to the scale of its victory, and that its platform was not decisive. Once in power, however, institutions were instrumental in allowing TRT to complete its term, but more important for its long-term dominance was the rapid implementation of its campaign promises, which created a mass constituency that in turn made Thaksin-linked parties resilient at the polls despite institutional reforms designed to weaken their electoral performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-418
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of East Asian Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the East Asia Institute..


  • Thailand
  • Thaksin Shinawatra
  • electoral politics
  • institutional design


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