Notes from the Field

New Survey to Explore Thailand’s ‘True Colors’

March 23, 2011

One year since violent conflict gripped central Bangkok in April-May 2010 – leaving more than 90 dead, scores injured, and property destroyed – many observers maintain that Thailand remains deeply divided into two polarized camps.

This viewpoint holds that one color is doing whatever is necessary to keep former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from returning to power and the other is working equally hard to have him pardoned to return to power again; one is supported by the traditional ruling elite and the other the disaffected rural masses; one is intent on thwarting any democratic growth to ensure the continuation of elite power and one is fighting for truth, justice, and democracy.

Conducted by The Asia Foundation’s office in Thailand, our second national public perception survey of the Thai electorate covers crucial governance and political issues, and also offers an opportunity to test the degree to which Thailand has become polarized.

Thailand protests in Bangkok

Protestors gather in central Bangkok last year.

Does the data support the contention that Thai society is divided along color lines? Among respondents, to what degree were the views of political activists and those professing loyalty to the Yellows or the Reds polarized? If polarized, to what degree were their views a reflection of a polarized Thai society?

Slated for release on March 28, in Bangkok, 2010 National Survey of the Thai Electorate: Exploring National Consensus and Color Polarization captures responses from 1,500 Thai citizens interviewed between September 17 and Oct. 23, 2010. In addition to the complete survey report, which will be available on the Foundation’s website, next week’s In Asia will include insight and analysis on survey findings from Foundation experts.

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