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Seminar on 'Participatory elements of democracy'

The event “Participatory elements of democracy” has been part of a political congress covering many interesting political issues like human rights, education, participation and economy.The seminar, in which representatives of governmental organizations, NGOS, academia and media attended, was held with speeches of Dr. Canan Atilgan, Resident Representative of KAS Thailand, Dr. Michael Nelson, M.L. Pruktisan Jumbala and Dr. Siriphan Noksuan – political experts and professors from Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University.

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It is important to see the value of participatory democracy as a common understanding among organizations and Thai government. Its major contribution to society is to highlight the need of more actively involve citizens in the political decision-making process instead of leaving it to the government institutions. This is being considered as a hidden fact which has influenced Thai political perception for many decades.

As an example, the mandate for political education is written in the Thai Constitution, but in fact there are no major efforts for reaching this aim. In Germany, political foundations play an active role in spreading political awareness and enabling the citizens to participate in the democratic process. Although the system of political foundations, as it is common in Germany for more than 5 decades, is very unique, it could be used as a model for raising political understanding among society.

The political system should focus on the implementation of pluralism and diversity, especially when there are basic elements for a well-accepted and well-understood democratic system.

Another principle that is well-regarded in Germany is the non-involvement of the state in political education.

The debate also mentioned the possible development of alternative checks and balances schemes to Thailand parliamentary system. In order to create more accountability structure to Thai politics, the nation must achieve clean and fair election from the start.

Another problem seems to be the party-system, as the agency theory, according to which power is mandated from people to representatives, does not work properly: Too much control is centralized to the party executives, who got huge influence on the prime minister and his cabinet and are even restricting the independence of members of the parliament.

There is a need for reforms introducing a system of checks and balances between parties and the people for creating more stability and confidence.

Huge criticism arose on the emotional and partisan behavior not only of newspapers and civil society, but also of academia that created even more distrust to the political system and their representatives. Recognizing the lack of trust in the political system among the civil society and the lack of stability of the system as a whole, not only the political participation and education should be a mayor focus, but also the fight on corruption which is a major problem not only in politics, but as well in all other parts of Thai society.

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