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James Ockey, "Variations on a Theme: Societal Cleavages and Party Orientations Through Multiple Transitions in Thailand," Party Politics, 11 (November, 2005), 728-747.

First Paragraph:
The September 1992 election in Thailand was deemed a contest between 'angel' and 'devil' parties. In this, the first election after the 'bloody May' democratic uprising, the angels were parties that had sided with the demonstrators, while the devils were parties that had sided with the military government. The angels won a resounding victory. A shared battle for democracy, one where many sacrificed their lives, might be expected to create the conditions for a long-term political alliance, even an enduring cleavage in the party system. However, the angels quickly proved unable to maintain their alliance. By the ensuing election, angels mixed with devils as relationships between parties and sentiment among voters shifted. Why did these alliances prove so ephemeral? Have other transitions to democracy in Thailand produced similar outcomes? In seeking to understand the relationship between democratic transitions, societal cleavages and party orientations, Thailand provides a particularly useful case. It has experienced multiple transitions to democracy. A comparison of these transitions may provide some tentative answers to questions raised in this special issue.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Cleavages, the party system and the 1957 election
Table 2. Cleavages, the party system and the 1975 election
Table 3. Cleavages, the party system and the 1992 elections
Table 4. Cleavages, the party system and the 2001 election

Last Paragraph:
The financial crisis of 1997 exposed societal cleavages that had been suppressed by repression and constitutional engineering, then masked by rapid development throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. While all social strata were affected, particularly hard-hit by the crisis were the poor and those in the long-neglected Northeastern region. A new attempt at constitutional engineering ensued. The provisions of the constitution should have benefited primarily Bangkok and the middle strata. However, in the 2001 election, populist policies carried the day, especially in the Northeast. It is difficult to extrapolate a trend. The Thai Rak Thai party also won the support of the rich and the middle strata through debt relief, promises of rapid growth and nationalism. Nevertheless, the societal cleavages remain and may prove difficult to contain