Contentious polities and political polarization in Thailand: Post-Thaksin reflections

Authors

ผศ.ดร.สาวิตรี คทวณิช

Published

Discourse and Society

Abstract

This article investigates the performance of identity and the concept of a ‘good’ leader reflected in the discourse of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a controversial yet significant politician in Thai contemporary politics. The analysis focuses on how Thaksin constructed his political self, and how it redefined the Thai political field and the relevant practices. The article traces the discursive construction of his political identity in the radio program PM Thaksin talks to the people aired in 2001–2005. The findings indicate that Thaksin’s discourse constructed an ambivalent political identity through heterogeneity and dynamic use of ‘we’. Various mechanism of legitimization secured his popularity and created a lasting bond with the people. The discussion argues that while the discourse projecting a leadership style that is both confident and defiant strengthened the bond between Thaksin and his supporters, it increasingly pushed the ‘others’ away, leading to a growing ideological gap and later an adversarial sense among Thais, a fracture that still dominates the contemporary Thai political and social landscape.

(2563). Contentious polities and political polarization in Thailand: Post-Thaksin reflections. Discourse and Society, 31(1), 44-63.