On the face of it, Thai politics in 2023 was groundbreaking. The event that encapsulated the year was the stunning electoral victory of a radical party, Move Forward. That party was eventually blocked from forming a government by an alliance that included Pheu Thai and the royalist-conservative elite. With Pheu Thai at the head of government, populist policies, most notably the digital wallet scheme, became the centerpiece for economic development. The marriage of convenience between the supposedly reformist Pheu Thai and the conservative forces, as well as the return of economic populism, gave the impression that not much had changed in Thailand. But compared to past years, 2023 was momentous.

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