Survey suggests Thai's not politically divided | Connect Asia

Survey suggests Thai's not politically divided

Survey suggests Thai's not politically divided

Posted 30 March 2011, 15:29 AEST

A survey in Thailand by the US-based Asia Foundation has found political polarization to be less widespread in the community than some media reports and analysts have suggested.

The 2010 National Survey of the Thai Electorate found that despite the vocal history of both the so called Yellow Shirt and Red Shirt groups in Thailand, there were fewer supporters of both groups than you may think.

Presenter: Ron Corben

Kim Mc Quay Asia Foundation Thailand representative; Nongyao Nawarat, Chiang Mai University

Kim Mc Quay is the Foundation Thailand representative. He says while the divisions are fewer, a hard core of support remains on either side.

MCQUAY: The dominant view has been that Thailand and the Thai polity is deeply divided along sharp lines. But what comes out from the survey - and did seem to resonate with peoples' observations as well too that Thailand is not divided in quite the same way. There was a large; nearly three quarters of the respondent population expressed no colour loyalty.

McQuay says among the 15-hundred surveyed many believed they would not be moved by colour loyalties in voting. But he added there are hard core members "very strongly" or mildly associated with the colour movements.

But Nongyao Nawarat, from Chiang Mai University, believes there is common ground between both groups even as Thailand heads for general elections likely in July.

NONGYAO: The most important thing is that the political crisis is divided between Red and Yellow is not as big as you could perceive from the media or from middle class or from academics discussion. So though red and yellow they are totally divided but actually they've got some common ground; is so important for Thai people to understand that both of them want the real democracy, a better just society and give enough space for all of us in Thailand.

CORBEN: How do you see the situation after the election now?

NONGYAO: After this election I think most would think that if the election get a good result and the process is fair and clean they can accept it. But Reds tend to believe that they could push their own political party, they love and yellow expect that they also can fight for to get the Democrat (Party) to run the country. For Red Shirtsthat is the last chance for them to fight for their right by showing the election result and they have confidence they can win the election.

While the Asia Foundation sees political polarisation in Thai society as less extreme the views of the minority on other side of the colour bar will remain even after the election whichever political parties win power.

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