In a recent edition of The Economist, I was delighted to read about the link between sufficiency economy and sufficiency democracy:
Thailand’s prime minister, an old Etonian, is not the only one to admire that sentiment. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, now in his fumbling twilight, admires what he calls Thailand’s “sufficiency economy”. In essence, the village poor must take their place along with everyone else in a perfect hierarchy topped by the king’s benevolent patronage. The political corollary might be dubbed a “sufficiency democracy”: rule by a self-appointed aristocracy claiming to protect the monarchy while amassing wealth and privilege.
This quote was reproduced a couple of days ago in Schott’s Vocab, a blog in the New York Times stable, which defines sufficiency democracy as follows:
Nickname for the current political system in Thailand, which some say supports a social hierarchy.
Schott’s Vocab traces the term back to one of my 2006 posts on New Mandala where I wrote:
Not only are rural people to be shielded (or excluded) from full and active participation in the national economy but their full and active participation in electoral democracy has been pushed aside in favour of Bangkok’s enlightened national leadership. Sufficiency democracy, like sufficiency economy, amounts to keeping rural aspirations firmly in their place.
I hereby stake a claim to having introduced the term “sufficiency democracy” to political science. But I will gracefully withdraw if someone can provide an earlier citation, either in English or Thai.