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Vote Buying and Village Outrage in an Election in Northern Thailand: Recent Legal Reforms in Historical Context

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2008

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Abstract

Vote buying has long been considered a major obstacle to democracy in Thailand. As reiterated in explanations of Thailand's 2006 military coup, vote buying in Thai electoral politics has often been attributed to traditional village culture and rural ignorance. Placing a 1995 northern Thai election for kamnan (subdistrict head) in historical context, this essay suggests that vote buying did not typify village electoral politics but was an aberration that reached its zenith during the mid-1990s. Legal ambiguities, not rural apathy or ignorance, impeded villagers' ability to protest corrupt practices and safeguard their internal democracy. These ambiguities emerged as new democratic laws implemented in 1992 and 1995 to decentralize power conflicted with older laws dating from the days of absolute monarchy. Subsequent legal reforms appear to have mitigated the importance of vote buying in village electoral politics. How these reforms will affect national electoral politics remains to be seen.

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Research Article
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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2008

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List of References

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Kingshill, Konrad. 1976. Ku Daeng—The Red Tomb: A Village Study in Northern Thailand. Bangkok: Suriyaban.Google Scholar
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