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The Collapse of Authoritarian Regimes in Indonesia and Thailand: Structural and Contextual Factors

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This article argues that heightened and widespread political activism and elite factionalism - comprising contextual forces, and under unfavourable economic conditions comprising structural change - culminated in regime changes in Thailand and Indonesia. These changes, however, are predicated on an earlier gravitation towards fulfilling the structural demands of democratic governance, such as the entrenchment of a competitive party system in the case of Thailand, or agitation for it as in the case of Indonesia. In addition, the widespread emergence of social consciousness, obtained through interest groups and the mass media, is equally important in signaling ripeness for change. Finally, notwithstanding the loss of political legitimacy, the refusal of an incumbent authoritarian government to surrender executive power is a critical variable in signaling the onset of change. Elite factionalism within an authoritarian government, a critical variable often cited by agency theorists, may be interpreted as a stimulus for change, or may point out that the core group of such a regime lacks the internal cohesion for its continuation.


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