Despite the Thai state’s long record of rice marketinterventions, historically politicians failed to leverage rice subsidies intheir pursuit of political support, notwithstanding the large number of farmersin the country. Since Thaksin Shinawatra’s election in 2001, though, eachgovernment has subsidised rice producers, although at varying degrees. Whatexplains this change? This article traces the four-decade history of rice pricesupport programmes. It is proposed that these policies be interpreted throughthe dual lens of institutionalism and public choice theory, demonstrating howpolitical institutions have shapedincentives for politicians to cater to different constituencies. During thepre-1980 period, under authoritarian regimes, Thai leaders applied rice pricepolicies to benefit urban consumers and the government. From 1979 through 2000,following implementation of the block-vote system, rice interventions were usedto appeal to voting intermediaries like rice millers, as bargaining chips amongcompeting parties and as stop-gap measures to diffuse farmer protests. Since2001, responding to the electoral system created by the 1997 constitution,politicians have appealed directly to the voting public, seeking broad-basedsupport via subsidies. The analysis highlights the impact that shifting institutionalincentives have on politicians’ actions and thus the emergent policies.
Rice Politics, Institutions, Paddy Pledging Scheme, Rural Development, Thailand, Populism
Asian Studies | Political Economy | Rural Sociology
Journal of Contemporary Asia
Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
RICKS, Jacob.(2018). Politics and the price of rice in Thailand: Public choice, institutional change and rural subsidies. Journal of Contemporary Asia, , 1-24.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2408
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