Something New in Thailand?

Something New in Thailand?

In a country plagued with 19 military coups or coup attempts in 86 years, it helps to have the army on your side. That’s why it’s remarkable that Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is making a name for himself.


The latest coup came in 2014. Since then, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been in charge. At first, the chaos of civilian government in a bitterly divided country made the military takeover popular with some, but army rule, and the repression needed to sustain it, have since worn thin. After several broken promises, Prayuth now says elections will be held next year. The military junta says it will allow new political parties to form — but not to campaign.

Enter Mr. Thanathorn, a charismatic young billionaire with no history in politics. The army is still throwing dissidents and activists in jail, and Thanathorn told The Guardian this week he will “champion the reduction of the military power in Thai politics.” He knows he risks imprisonment. He says he has received death threats. His party, called “Future Forward,” has attracted enough attention that the army has pressed the country’s electoral commission to shut it down.

Thanathorn may well end up behind bars. His party might be banned. Even if there’s an election, and even if he’s allowed to run, he’ll struggle to win many votes outside the big cities, particularly in the north. But the buzz around his candidacy suggests there’s growing demand for something new in Thailand’s frozen politics.

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They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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