Southeast Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2423-8686
Print ISSN : 2186-7275
<Special issue> “Political Networks in Asia,” edited by Takeshi Onimaru and Khoo Boo Teik
Contending Political Networks: A Study of the “Yellow Shirts” and “Red Shirts” in Thailand’s Politics
Thabchumpon Naruemon
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2016 Volume 5 Issue 1 Pages 93-113

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Abstract

This essay investigates two bitter antagonists in the turbulent politics of contemporary Thailand: the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), with its members labeled the “Yellow Shirts,” and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), or the “Red Shirts.” Each of the two foes, typically regarded only as a social movement, actually has a vast network connecting supporters from many quarters. The Yellow Shirt network is associated with the monarchy, military, judiciary, and bureaucracy. The Red Shirt network, organizationally manifest in a series of electorally triumphant parties, is linked to exiled ex-Prime Minister ­Thaksin Shinawatra, his “proxies,” and groups and individuals who opposed the military coup that ousted Thaksin in 2006. The significance of the two antagonistic networks can be gauged from their different influences on democratic processes over several years. Using concepts of political networks to examine the PAD and UDD within the socio-political context in which they arose, the essay focuses on several aspects of the networks: their political conception and perspectives, their organizational structures (for decision making and networking), and the strategies and activities of their members. The essay critically analyzes key and affiliated characters within the PAD and UDD, as well as the functional mechanisms of the networks, in order to evaluate the positions of the two networks in contemporary Thai politics.

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© 2016 Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
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