Turkey and Thailand: Unlikely Twins

Issue Date July 2012
Volume 23
Issue 3
Page Numbers 71-79
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This article compares recent political developments in two seemingly different countries: Turkey and Thailand. The similarities between the trajectories of Turkey and Thailand date back to their similar manner of incorporation into the modern international system in the late nineteenth century. In recent years, the rise of new societal groups based upon urbanized villagers has produced charismatic populist leaders who preach democracy, but practise electoralism. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Thaksin Shinawatra are locked in parallel confrontations with traditionally interventionist military/bureaucratic elites. A comparison between Thailand and Turkey provides insights that are generally applicable to our understanding of democratization outside the West.

About the Authors

Duncan McCargo

Duncan McCargo is director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. His book Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand is forthcoming from Cornell University Press.

View all work by Duncan McCargo

Ayşe Zarakol

Ayşe Zarakol is assistant professor of politics at Washington and Lee University and the author of After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (2011).

View all work by Ayşe Zarakol