Kevin Hewison’s article about “neo liberalism and domestic capital” (Journal of Development Studies, 2005, volume 41, no. 2)predates the current political crisis but it provides important insights into the Thai Rak Thai phenomenon. Hewison traces Thaksin’s political success to the reaction against the IMF imposed neo-liberalism of the late 1990s. Neo-liberal policies posed real threats to Thai domestic capital and Thai Rak Thai emerged as its defender. But within an electoral system this policy shift in favour of the local capitalist class required parliamentary dominance. To achieve this Thai Rak Thai proposed a new social contract with the urban and rural poor that replaced the “developmentalist” social contract of the 1970s and 1980s. The 30 baht health scheme and the much maligned million baht village fund were key elements of this new social contract. Hewison does not shy away from branding these policies as “populist” but his idea of a “social contract” adds sophistication to a debate in which Thaksin’s supporters are often stereotyped as the feckless country-bumpkin recipients of electoral inducements. A government which “deliver[s] direct benefits to the poor” may be a shock for upper- and middle-class urbanites who claim to know what the poor really want (phum panyaa, self-sufficiency and community culture) but in the provinces many see such policies (with their various strenghts and weaknesses) as deserving of electoral support. If we are to understand why Thaksin has been able to marshall so many votes (in three consecutive elections) we need to start to think in more sophisticated terms about the political values of the voting population. Hewison’s article is a useful starting point.