Thailand’s Hyper-royalism: Its Past Success and Present Predicament
About the publication
Thailand’s political impasse in the past decade is partly attributable to the royalist dominance of the parliamentary system, a dominance developed and strengthened under the cultural condition of hyper-royalism. Hyper-royalism is the politico-cultural condition in which royalism is intensified and exaggerated in public and everyday life. It is sanctioned by legislation that controls expressions about the monarchy in the public sphere.
Hyper-royalism began in the mid-1970s as a measure to counteract perceived communist threats. Despite the fact that these threats had disappeared by the early 1980s, hyper-royalism persisted and was strengthened to support royalist democracy. Hyper-royalism generates the concept of the ideology of modern monarchy — a charismatic king who is sacred, righteous and cares for his people, and who is indispensable to Thailand — and the belief that royalist democracy is best for Thailand.
Hyper-royalism also generates the illusion that the monarchy is divine, thanks to visual performances and objects, especially through television and majestic pageantry. Accordingly, the ideal monarch is found in King Bhumibol. Given the mortality of Bhumibol, however, future prospects of hyper-royalism and royalist-guided democracy are grim. Thailand’s political future is highly uncertain.