Political Corruption in Thailand, 1997-2017
This research is aimed to study the factors and conditions that led to corruption in Thai politics in 1997-2017; 2) and to investigate the patterns and processes of corruption. The research was qualitatively conducted on the basis of content analysis. Data were collected from in-depth interviews with 27 key informants who were politicians from 6 political parties. The collected data were analyzed according to the objectives, and the results were descriptively illustrated.
The result revealed that factors and conditions leading to corruption in Thai politics in 1997-2017 were: the 1997 Constitution and the 2017 Constitution politically empowering the Prime Minister and only two large political parties, political party leaders’ dominant authority and power over the ideology of the party, and political parties’ expenditure on their election campaigns. In addition, it was found that there were two patterns of corruption: traditional political corruption and modern political corruption. Political corruption was also found to lead to social corruption. The corruption processes included politicians’ abuse of power to enable the system patronage politics, e.g. buying politicians and political parties to gain a majority of support in the parliament, politicians’ abuse of administrative power to control the legislature and judicial branches as well as independent organizations, and the creation of a to create a patronage system and political loyalty among poor and low-educated people through populist projects. 24 key informants considered the dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai Party and the People Power Party and the imprisonment of three former members of the Election Commission as political corruptions; however, three key informants considered them as political matters and political bullying.
The research recommended the mechanisms for civil society be strengthened to pressure corrupt local and national politicians and political parties and deny their return to the political journey. In addition, more intensively legal enforcement should be established to control politician’s and political parties’ corruption.