Through the prism of Thai politics – Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 5, 2014
[Thanks to Tom for pointing this out.]
…As in the Philippines, Thai voters are attracted to populist leaders with whom they can identify and who pledge to look after them. Released from the hierarchical ties of traditional society, they are no longer in awe of the old signifiers of the elite’s right to rule—cultural sophistication, high education, rhetorical ability, pedigree, etc. Indeed their choices for leaders may often prove disappointing, but this is no less true for leaders chosen by the elites.
Thailand has to go back to elections sooner or later. But the terms of those elections must be defined in such a way that their outcomes are not predetermined. The voting masses must learn to vote intelligently, and the middle classes must learn to win elections by serving the people. Only then can elections be a source of legitimacy.