The book was borne out of the idea that the 2011 election represents a paradigm shift
in the history of Thai electoral politics. Data collected by King Prajadhipok’s Institute
before and after the 2011 election, mostly through face-to-face interviews, came to
substantiate this claim. The data paints a picture of a well-informed and mature Thai
electorate in all parts of the kingdom. Contrary to the conclusions drawn by some
earlier research, the data here shows that the most knowledgeable and most informed
of all voters in Thailand are northeastern people, outperforming voters in Bangkok in
their knowledge of the candidates and the issues by a signifi cant margin.
In other words, the scholars in this book argue against the traditional anti-election
discourse, which assumes alleged ignorance on the part of Thai voters (especially
in the Northeast) and compares provincial members of Parliament to wild animals.
Yet such discourse is still vivid today. It even provided the rationale for the blocking
of the 2014 general election under the motto “Reform before Elections”—and then
paved the way for the May 22 military coup.
The 2011 general election represents the apex of the Thai democratization process
so far. As a signal of possible democratic consolidation, it prompted a renewal of
authoritarianism in the form of a return of the military to the political stage, which
is likely to have long-lasting eff ects on the overall process of democratization in