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Defensive Populism in Tutelary Democracies: The Case of Thaksin Shinawatra vs the Deep State in Thailand

Abstract : Margaret Canovan argues that “populism in modern societies is best seen as an appeal to the people against both the established structure and the dominant ideas and values of the society.” This chapter argues that this traditional way of looking at populism gives it too much agency. Instead of adopting a one-pronged approach to populism as a multi-class populist-led “mobilization” against the establishment, one could also examine the very labeling of populism as an elite-middle class mobilization against a popular leader. Populism then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the case of Thailand, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra turned to his people when the establishment of the Deep State (composed of the military, the monarchy, and the judiciary) labeled him a populist and threatened him with a military coup: in this case of tutelary democracy, populism is best labeled as “defensive.” The Thai case study shows that in tutelary democracies, “defensive populism” can nonetheless turn the middle-classes against democracy, with long-term effects on the country’s prospects for democratization.
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Submitted on : Friday, March 11, 2022 - 12:20:07 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 3:31:50 AM

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Eugénie Mérieau. Defensive Populism in Tutelary Democracies: The Case of Thaksin Shinawatra vs the Deep State in Thailand. Contemporary Populists in Power, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.271-288, 2022, The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy, 978-3-030-84078-5. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-84079-2_15⟩. ⟨hal-03605836⟩

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