Democracy in Southeast Asia

June 2010 • Volume 4, Issue 6
Will the region become more democratic?
By Barbara Mantel

Introduction

Violent struggle for democracy in Thailand (AFP/Getty Images/Nicolas Asfouri)
The struggle for democracy in Thailand this spring has been violent. Anti-government protesters — known as “red shirts” — carry a man shot by security forces in Bangkok on May 16. During nine weeks of mass street protests and clashes with security forces, at least 88 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured. (AFP/Getty Images/Nicolas Asfouri)

Indonesia is the world's third-largest democracy and one of its newest. But while Indonesia is consolidating its democratic institutions and slowly making progress against endemic corruption, democracy elsewhere in Southeast Asia is in distress. High-level corruption and politically motivated murders are obstructing democracy in the Philippines. In Thailand, 14 years of turbulent democracy ended with a military coup in 2006. Elections eventually resumed, but after anti-government protesters camped in Bangkok's commercial center for months this spring demanding new elections, the government finally broke up the demonstrations and began shooting and arresting protesters. True democracy is largely a fiction in Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma) is run by a brutal authoritarian regime. Against this backdrop, opposition politicians, scholars and human rights activists debate how best to encourage democracy in Southeast Asia.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Democracy
Oct. 20, 2017  Democracy Under Stress
Jul. 17, 2012  Myanmar's New Era
Jan. 17, 2012  Emerging Central Asia
Jun. 21, 2011  Peacebuilding
May 03, 2011  Turmoil in the Arab World
Feb. 15, 2011  Sub-Saharan Democracy
Jun. 2010  Democracy in Southeast Asia
Apr. 01, 2005  Exporting Democracy
Jan. 30, 2004  Democracy in the Arab World
Nov. 03, 2000  Democracy in Latin America
Oct. 08, 1999  Democracy in Eastern Europe
Jul. 24, 1998  Democracy in Asia
Aug. 17, 1990  Initiatives: True Democracy or Bad Lawmaking?
Feb. 02, 1990  Free Markets, Free Politics and Growth
Jun. 14, 1967  Greece: Monarchy Vs. Republicanism
Feb. 04, 1959  Revolutionary Ferment and Democratic Processes
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
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Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific