Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy: Was 2020 a Turning Point?

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Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy: Was 2020 a Turning Point?

23rd February 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

In 2014 army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha launched a coup which brought himself and the Thai military to power. Five years later elections, widely seen as unfree and unfair, took place in an attempt to legitimise this rule. The junta remained in power, marking yet another setback for democracy in Thailand.

This has not occurred without resistance but these efforts, to constrain the power of the military, have been suppressed. In early 2020 the Constitutional Court’s decision to ban the anti-military junta Future Forward Party was just one example of the authority’s crackdown, and it sparked a series of year-long protests.

As demonstrations grew so too did the demands of their participants. By August there even began to be calls for reform of the monarchy – a topic long considered taboo in Thailand.

Today discontent with the military and the king endures. As too does the regime’s crackdown against its critics. Many commentators regard the events of 2020 as unprecedented. The question is how will the discontent unleashed last year manifest itself in 2021. Did Thailand reach a turning point?


Professor Duncan McCargo is Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, and Professor of Political Science, at the University of Copenhagen. He specialises in Thai politics and recently published ‘Future Forward: The Rise and Fall of a Thai Political Party’.


Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal is a student activist and vocal critics of the Thai junta. He is currently President of Chulalongkorn University’s political science student union, and is also a prolific author and translator.


Gray Sergeant is a Research Fellow in the Asia Studies Centre. He studied International Relations and History at the London School of Economics and went on to complete a Master’s in Chinese Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Most recently, he completed a one year Mandarin language programme at National Taiwan University. Prior to joining HJS, Gray held various positions including campaign roles for the Labour Party in, as well as working in the UK Parliament. In addition, he spent several years in human right advocacy, with a specific focus on Tibet. In 2017 he co-founded Hong Kong Watch, which monitors freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and is currently the organisation’s Chair.


You can RSVP your tickets HERE




23rd February 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


United Kingdom


Henry Jackson Society
+44 (0) 20 7340 4520


Gray Sergeant, Duncan McCargo, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal


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