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Thai electoral campaigning: vote-canvassing networks and hybrid voting

Thai Wahlkampf: Stimmen-Akqisitionsnetzwerke und Hybrid Voting
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Chattharakul, Anyarat

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Abstract Based on evidence gathered through participant observation, this article illuminates the nature of vote-canvassing, previously a black box in Thai electoral studies. Offering a close-up study of the internal mechanisms of an individual Thai election campaign, this article reveals that vote-canvasser networks are underpinned by long-term dyadic relationships, both hierarchical and horizontal, between the candidate, vote-canvassers and voters. These networks continue to be the most important factor in winning elections. This article documents how candidates draw up an election campaign map and identify voters along residential lines to maximise their vote-canvassing strategy. The findings of this article challenge Anek's 1996 concept of "two democracies", which argues that rural voters are influenced by money, local leaders, political factions and corrupt politicians while more well-educated, urban, middle-class voters are more oriented toward the alternative policies offered by competing parties. The case study of Kom’s election campaign showed that the role of the much-vaunted middle-class voters is not decisive, even in suburban areas of Bangkok. While political marketing has grown in importance in Thai elections, it has not displaced traditional electoral practices. Thai society is, in fact, deeply fragmented and diverse – too complex to be divided in such a simplistic manner. This article suggests that rather than undergoing a linear transformation, political hybridisation is a key trend in Thai election campaigns.
Keywords Thailand; Southeast Asia; election campaign; voter; election research; election advertising; strategy; campaign; party; middle class; political economy; marketing; transformation; political change; tradition; urban population; rural population; hybridity; network; politician
Classification Sociology of Developing Countries, Developmental Sociology; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method empirical; qualitative empirical; historical
Free Keywords Political Science; Thai Studies; election; electoral campaigning; political parties; Southeast Asia; 1990-2010
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 67-95
Journal Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 29 (2010) 4
ISSN 1868-4882
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works