Earlier in 2008 I drew New Mandala reader attention to the academic work of Serhat ├Ьnaldi. He has recently finished his (undergraduate) degree at the Southeast Asian Studies program at Humboldt University in Berlin.
His final thesis is, like many of his papers, available online. It discusses the roles of the current Thai and Spanish kings in the politics of their respective countries. ├Ьnaldi’s conclusion – that “Kings in a modern age can be beneficial to democracy if they strictly adhere to their role as neutral mediators in times of severe crises and, with their symbolic authority, strengthen the political system by committing themselves to constitutionalism and the rule of law – a law they do not themselves manipulate” (p.39) – is one that has lurked behind much debate on New Mandala over the years.
With that in mind, for readers looking for an interesting comparative treatment of Thailand’s king and his political role, this thesis is well worth a look. And, for those who can’t get enough, some of ├Ьnaldi’s other interesting papers, in both English and German, can be downloaded here.