|As of 2010, only 14% identified themselves as being "red."|
While the Asia Foundation harbors questionable origins and funding, its report reflects other independent research and observations. It goes far in explaining the election results in 2011, which saw only 35% of all eligible voters choose the current ruling regime, as well as the dwindling numbers at pro-regime rallies.
The findings were published on the Asian Foundation's website, "In Asia," in a report titled, "Survey Findings Challenge Notion of a Divided Thailand." It summarized the popular misconception of a "divided" Thailand by stating:
Since Thailand’s color politics began pitting the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (PAD) “Yellow-Shirt” movement against the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship’s (UDD) “Red-Shirt” movement, political watchers have insisted that the Thai people are bitterly divided in their loyalties to rival political factions.The survey, conducted over the course of late 2010 and involving 1,500 individuals, revealed a meager 14% of Thailand's population identify themselves as being "red," and of that 14%, only 7% identify themselves as "strongly red."
The survey reveals that by far, most Thais constitute what is called the "silent majority." The survey included multiple questions that reveal the leanings of this silent majority.
For instance, regarding violence that erupted when Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to seize back power in 2010 with large street mobs augmented by armed mercenaries, only 37% blamed the government, 40% squarely blamed Thaksin, 4% held both sides responsible, and the remaining 19% weren't sure. 62% found the army (which ousted Thaksin in 2006, and restored order in Bangkok both in 2009 and 2010 after pro-Thaksin mobs turned violent) as an important independent institution that has helped safeguard and stabilize the country.
Other telling metrics revealed in the report were that only 52% of the population see Thai elections as "free and fair," with the majority of those coming from Thaksin's northeast stronghold of Issan. The desire to persecute convicted politicians was overall stronger than the desire to punish those responsible for the 2006 coup, and less of the population sought to punish the military for its role in restoring order in Bangkok in 2010. Again, both metrics were affected predictably by those polled in Thaksin's political stronghold.
The Myth of Popular Support and Electoral Legitimacy
The regime has thus far propped itself up in all regards entirely based on the myth that it has popular support. It claims "landslide elections" and broad popular support give it a mandate to consolidate its power, rewrite the constitution, grant themselves amnesty for nearly a decade of criminality, and entirely eliminate its opposition. The regime's Western supporters have perpetuated this myth before and during the 2011 general election and now throughout the ongoing anti-regime protests. But clearly, according to the Asian Foundation survey, even before the election when Thaksin Shinawatra's popularity was decidedly greater, only a small minority were truly supporting him and his political machine.
In the 2011 elections, despite being declared a "landslide victory," according to Thailand's Election Commission, Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy political party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout of approx. 74%). This gave Thaksin's proxy party a mere 48% of those who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually "lead" the country.
Since the elections, the government has betrayed that 35% with its catastrophically failing populist schemes and has agitated the other 65% of the voting population with cartoonish acts of nepotism, corruption, megalomania, and incompetence. With regime gunmen opening fire during recent clashes between supporters and anti-regime protesters along with recent revelations of the regime being complicit in Rohingya slave camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, further disgust and dismay is sweeping across the Thai population.
This coupled with the reality that only a minuscule minority actually identify themselves as "red" helps explain why pro-regime rallies have been dwarfed by protests in the streets against the regime. While the mandate for the regime never truly existed in the first place, even the illusion of a mandate is quickly slipping away.
The myth of "majority" is intended to both legitimize the regime's extralegal attempts to consolidate its power, and as a form of intimidation against potential opponents, critics, and protesters who are meant to feel "outnumbered" and "surrounded." As this illusion and the barriers of fear are dismantled - like the concrete barriers removed by protesters battling regime police last week - more and more of the silent majority, the true majority, will rise up against the regime.