Youth Participation

Thailand defines youth as persons who are between 14 and 25 years old, in acknowledgement of the important role young people play in the future society. However, the voting age starts from 18 years old. According to the Official Statistics Registration Sytem, as of December 2015, the number of youth aged between 18-25 is 7,685,105 out of over 65 million population[i] which is about 4.9%.

Since 1934, Thailand has put civic education in a part of education. Thai children and youth are taught that elections are a key mechanism of democracy. In 1973, Thailand encountered a big people’s uprising in which students and youth played an important role in the demonstration to end the ruling military dictatorship and demand the enforcement of the constitution after the dismissal of parliament. After this historical event, Thailand entered its golden age of democracy when people and students actively participated in elections and politics. There were calls to amend the constitution to broaden suffrage by lowering the voting age to 18 years and above[ii].

However, in current time, there has been a big decline of youth interests and participation in elections and politics due to several reasons, such as competition in studies and works, pressure from authorities, and societies. However, since Thailand encounters the political conflict and polarization, we still could see youth participation in both political camps, as well as other small groups of political stands. There are several formation of youth groups which actively involve in the movement. However, there is still a strong need for them to learn about civic education, public participation and voter education in democratic society in order to understand their role and to solve the problem of inequality, corruption, electoral problems and other political matters which will lead Thailand to a real democratic country.

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