In 2020, attention in Thailand focused on the pandemic and on political protest. After some early missteps Thailand managed the pandemic well, eliminating community transmission with a strong curfew, essentially a lockdown, and effective tracking and tracing. Yet the economic impact on Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy will continue into 2021. The pandemic interrupted student-led protests against a regime they considered undemocratic, in the wake of the dissolution of the opposition Future Forward Party. After the pandemic was brought under control, the demonstrations resumed, with students demanding constitutional amendments (already under consideration by the parliament), the resignation of the prime minister, and the dissolution of parliament. They added unprecedented calls for reform of Thailand’s monarchy. Students argued that reforms designed to fully remove the monarchy from politics would increase respect for the institution. But there were concerns that violence between students and royalists or security forces might ensue.

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