Don’t let Southeast Asia’s sham elections fool you

Southeast Asia is readying for two, possibly three, elections in the coming months. But make no mistake — none promise to be free or fair, and they should not be recognized as such.

First up is Thailand, which is scheduled to vote on May 14. The country has been under de facto military rule since a 2014 coup, although the coup leader, former general Prayuth Chan-ocha, managed to change his army uniform for civilian garb after a highly suspect election in 2019 that cemented the military’s role in power.

Mr. Prayuth is seeking an extension of his term in the coming election, but this time the military is split. Another former general, Prawit Wongsuwan, is also running for prime minister under the banner of a rival military-allied party. This unusual division gives hope to some that perhaps the will of the people might be respected and the generals tossed out. Don’t count on it.

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