cover of book

Dynastic Democracy: Political Families of Thailand
by Yoshinori Nishizaki
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-0-299-33833-6 | Cloth: 978-0-299-33830-5
Library of Congress Classification DS575.N568 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 940.53593

The political history of Thailand since the overthrow of absolute monarchy in 1932 has conventionally been interpreted as a long series of popular struggles for representative democracy and against military authoritarian rule. Yoshinori Nishizaki argues that this history can be better understood as one of struggles by elite political families for and against “dynastic democracy”—a form of democracy that is characterized by the patrimonial transmission of power between members of select ruling families. Dynastic Democracy suggests it is these familial-based contestations for political ascendancy that underlie the tumultuous politics of Thailand, a country that has experienced no fewer than twenty-two coups over the course of the past century.
Drawing extensively on Thai-language primary sources, including assets documents and cremation volumes for deceased politicians and their kin, Nishizaki traces the intricate blood and marriage connections among Thailand’s political families. These families may fall into two categories: influential commoner families that have held parliamentary seats since 1932 and form the core of Thailand’s dynastic democracy; and upper-class families that are kin to or aligned ideologically with the royal family and have repeatedly challenged dynastic democracy through coups, constitutional changes, and other political maneuvers. Nishizaki’s exploration of dynastic democracy illustrates how democratic pluralism in Thailand has been consistently stifled, to the detriment of ordinary citizens. Dynastic Democracy fleshes out a widely acknowledged yet heretofore empirically unsubstantiated facet of Thai political history—that in Thai politics, family matters.
Nearby on shelf for History of Asia / Southeast Asia / Thailand (Siam):