IT WAS THE largest demonstration since Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister, seized power in a coup in 2014. On August 16th more than 10,000 protes
IT WAS THE largest demonstration since Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister, seized power in a coup in 2014. On August 16th more than 10,000 protesters flocked to the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. Student unions and youth groups have led protests for more than a month across the country. They want the government to step down. They demand a new constitution and an end to the harassment of opposition campaigners. More controversially, at a rally at Bangkok’s Thammasat University on August 10th, some agitators openly called for reform of the monarchy, still a strict taboo.
Thailand has endured 12 coups since revolution brought an end to absolute monarchy in 1932. Wrestling between generals and politicians has yielded 20 constitutions over the years. Military regimes boost their legitimacy through reverence for the crown. For almost two decades a feud between “yellow shirts” (royalist elites) and “red shirts” (supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist former prime minister) has divided Thai politics.
The latest protests are somewhat different. They have their roots in unrest that began in February, before social-distancing measures for covid-19 put public demonstrations on ice. Future Forward, a progressive party less than two years old, was dissolved by the constitutional court. Its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, though he has been banned from…