chapter  1
17 Pages

Democratic durability in Southeast Asia

Factors commonly used to explain durable democracy in developing countries include beneficent historical legacies, favourable social structures, medium-to-high levels of economic development, facilitative modes of democratic transition and appropriate institutional design. Contextual factors anticipate democracy's persistence in Thailand, its faltering in the Philippines, and its collapse in Indonesia. Democracy has persisted in Indonesia for more than a decade-and-a-half since founding elections in 1999. In Thailand, contextual factors augur well for democratic change and persistence. In the Philippines, standard contextual factors bode less well than in Thailand for democracy's persistence, though do not rule it out, posing net ambiguous effects. Democracy's breakdown would be anticipated in Indonesia by any account based solely on contextual factors. During the mid-1970s, Thailand underwent the first 'homegrown' transition from authoritarian rule in post-War Southeast Asia. The causal weight and directionality of historical legacies, social structures, developmental levels, and transitional pathways are by themselves ambiguous, variously contributing to democracy's collapse or persistence.