Thailand’s sufficiency democracy election campaign rolls on. Having spent years slamming Thaksin’s populism the Democrats-except-when-you-can’t-win-an-election-and-then-a-coup-is-OK are out trying to woo the voters of the northeast with a swag of electoral goodies (including a “sufficiency economy fund to provide loans to farmers”!!). And the usual elite hand-wringing persists about the threat of vote-buying. But most bizarre of all in this Thai-style democracy is that martial law remains in place in 27 of the country’s 76 province. How can a free and vigorous election campaign possibly proceed with martial law restrictions on political activity and assembly? Not content with pulling the strings on the puppet-PM, retired General Sonthi has now moved into a Deputy PM seat, where, according to the Bangkok Post he will “supervise the Defence, Interior, Labour and Foreign ministries, which are key agencies responsible for the country’s security affairs.” One of his early acts was to declare that martial law would remain in place in border provinces to “to help security officials crack down on drugs and illegal entry, not for political purposes.” Of course, there is no greater border threat now than there has been in the recent past. Sonthi is using the well-worn strategy of summoning up an imagined threat to the integrity of the nation’s borders for narrow political ends. Martial law persists in the north and northeast because these are strong electoral bases for anti-regime forces. And, as a simple inspection of a provincial map of Thailand will show, talk of “border provinces” can be used to justify the maintenance of military controls over political freedom in a vast swathe of the country’s territory.