Period: 2 February 2005 - 29 March 2005. Country: Thailand
(1) Central-Local Relationships in an Age of Decentralization: The Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) Elections and Their Effects on Power Structures in the Provinces
Achakorn Wongreedee  (Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies)
Key Words: Decentralization, Local Politics, Central-Local Relationships, Power Structure, Provincial Administration Organization (PAO)

(2) The research is aimed at explaining how central-local relationships and the power structure in Thai provinces and local politics have changed following a decade of decentralization (1994-2004). In order to gain a detailed understanding, three main research questions have been prepared.

  1. How has the real power structure been changed and built by the PAO elections?
  2. What is the relationship between central and local administration?
  3. What is the relationship between the local power structure and national politics?

(3)  I conducted my field research from February 2, 2005 to March 29, 2005 in Pathum Thani, a province located in the central region of Thailand, and Buriram, a province in Northeastern Thailand. All of the expected results from the field research were successfully acquired, as follows.

  1. The acquisition of relevant primary and secondary documents which will be beneficial to both the development of my body of knowledge and as empirical evidence to prove the hypotheses.
  2. Interviews of several influential local persons in the provinces; such as PAO mayors, provincial governors, MPs, local politicians, and followers in local areas.
  3. Concrete patterns of power structures in both provinces were mapped out based on various sources of information, including participatory observations.
  4. A process of participatory observation in the offices of provincial and local governments, in both provinces, and in many rural settlements, will strengthen the reliability of all sources of information.
Mr. Sophon Petchsawang, MP from Buriram and Adviser to the Prime Minister, during his election campaign in Buriram.   Ms. Sudarat Kaeyuraphan, Minister of Public Health, votes on general election day, Feb. 6, 2005 at the voting place near her home. In the photo, the green box is for the ballots for constituency MPs (MPs in one constituency), where as the red box is for the party list MP ballots (proportional MP). After the election, she was appointed to be Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Thai citizens go to the voting place to check their name in order to use their right to vote on general election day.  

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