Who votes for virtue? Religion and party choice in Thailand’s 2019 election

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jats:p Does religion shape political competition in Thailand? Despite the prominence of religiously inflected rhetoric of good and evil in contemporary political contestation, existing research suggests that it does not. This article challenges this conventional wisdom. Survey data collected in connection with Thailand’s 2019 general election, which marked a transition from direct military rule to a hybrid regime, allow us to examine the political relevance of religious belonging, belief, and behaviour. Our analysis finds evidence for the political salience of a secular/religious cleavage: voters who self-identified as more religious were more inclined to support the main pro-military party Palang Pracharath and its closest allies, whilst more secularised voters tended to support anti-military parties in general and the Future Forward Party in particular. We also find that Thailand’s religious minorities were politically divided: Muslims and Protestants backed the pro-military parties whilst Catholics opposed them. Our analysis underscores the need for more attention to the role of religious cleavages in Thai political contention. </jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True

Thailand, political parties, social cleavages, religion, Buddhism, secularization
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Party Politics
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SAGE Publications
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Societal Challenges (770562)
Parts of the research published here received financial support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Program for Research and Innovation within the framework of the project CRISEA (“Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia”), grant agreement No. 770562/Europe in a changing world, Engaging together globally.