Thailand is a unique nation by several measures. It is relatively prosperous, ranking 74th in the Index with a modern economy, flourishing tourism, and a growing middle class. The nation displays the hallmarks of a successful democracy with 61% of Thai citizens having confidence in the government and 59% confident in elections but democracy is exactly what it lacks. In fact, Thailand has had 14 attempted coups since the end of the Second World War, more than almost any other country in the world. In between these coups, violent political strife and government oppression of its people ensue.
We can trace the recent decline of Thailand back to 2013 when a sizeable decline in the levels of confidence in government and satisfaction with personal freedom, and an increase in social hostilities became apparent. Growing unrest resulted in the overthrow of the government in 2014 by a military junta, who have yet to hand the nation back to its people via a democratic process. From 2014 to 2015 the sharpest declines manifested in a decrease of civil liberties and falling levels of democracy when the junta began prosecuting opponents of military rule, increased media censorship and introduced a nightly curfew.
The long running political instability has prevented the nation from maintaining basic levels of human security. Thailand is the third most unequal country in the world with the top 1% richest individuals owning 58% of the wealth, and most people living in a large rural community. Interventionist military rule has resulted in political oppression and prevented any democratically elected government, bar one, from completing a full term throughout the history of Thailand’s democracy. Since the 2014 coup, levels of satisfaction with the standard of living have dropped alongside availability of food and shelter. Thais feel insecure and until the nation finds political stability and democratically elected leadership, it remains unclear how true reform can be implemented to rebuild safety and security, and the institutions to foster rising prosperity.