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Red Shirts Yellow Shirts and Politics in Thailand

Updated on July 18, 2011

A Brief Explanation

Anyone who has an interest in World News will be aware of the ongoing political problems in Thailand. Sometimes described as a developing civil war between rich and poor but in actuality much more complex than that. All classes are on both sides.

They divide themselves into Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts and trade insults and occasional blows as well as disrupting the usual peaceful harmony of Thailand. The majority of the population could not give a damn. They just want to get along peacefully with their work.

This is a brief guide and does not pretend to address the complex and complicated confusion of the present political situation in Thailand. It seeks to explain the division of the main parties in the conflict.

Yellow Shirts

The 'Yellow Shirts' are the People's Alliance for Democracy. They are fiercely Royalist and against the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies.

The choice of Yellow is to show their allegiance to the King of Thailand. Yellow is the King's colour.


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Red Shirts

The 'Red Shirts' are made up of two supposedly smaller political groups, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship or UDD and Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship or DAAD.

The 'Red Shirts' strongest support comes from the North of Thailand from where the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra originates. They would like to see him return to politics in Thailand.

Thaksin Shinawatra manipulates the Red Shirts from outside Thailand. He is unable to return to the country through fear of arrest.

Photo by:
Photo by:

The Army

The Army of Thailand are meant to be neutral of politics but with sworn allegiance to the King.


Photo By:
Photo By:

Is it Safe?

 It is definitely safe to visit Thailand. Tourists and visitors who were here during the last coup were mostly unaware that it had taken place. Only those wishing to leave or arrive in Thailand during the last disturbances at the airport were affected. Any foreigner living here just did not notice.

What Next?

Who knows? Both sides continue to trade insults. It is almost a "it's my ball so you cannot play" sort of situation. 


Submit a Comment

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

    @TravelinAsia - Just how could we explain politics and press bias to an alien? Thank you for the link.

  • TravelinAsia profile image

    TravelinAsia 6 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

    Peter, I thought this might interest you: an excellent documentary on BBC television, showcasing the truth behind last years violent clashes between the Thai Military, and the red-shirt protesters. At the time the world media was slow to criticize the Thai government, but since a new government has come to power, the story has changed.

  • nickupton profile image

    nickupton 7 years ago from Bangkok

    TravelinAsia - The Thai people did not vote for the redshirts in an overwhelming majority (36-39% of the vote depending on who you believe, that means at least 60% did not vote for them), that is why the "redshirt" party (I will call them that for simplicity) needed coalition partners to form a government. Also, they were not democratically elected - they cheated, there is video evidence for this and they have never denied the charge, only that they should not have been dissolved because the clause that decreed dissolution for electoral fraud was written by the military.

    I do not believe that the redshirts would have won the election after the trouble they caused in Bangkok. In the area I live in they are despised - an area of Bangkok where many muslims (frequent victims of redshirt violence and their chosen party) and middle class people who work for a living (certainly not rich though and by no means "elite").

    I think what we can agree on is how complicated the matter is and anyone who tries to simplify it into rich and poor does not understand the situation at all.

    However, we will see who wins come July 3 2011.

  • TravelinAsia profile image

    TravelinAsia 7 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

    Wow , I love all the controversy!

    I am laughing at the Thai American who commented.

    As complex as the situation is, the simple side of it is that the People of Thailand have voted for the red shirts in an overwhelming majority. The red shirts were removed from power twice in the past few years after being democratically elected. The red shirts would certainly win an election if there was one held today.

    Unfortunately it would appear that democracy in Thailand is non existent!

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

    Somtaidude - thank you for stopping by. This article is not about the politics so much as I stated at the start

    "This is a brief guide and does not pretend to address the complex and complicated confusion of the present political situation in Thailand. It seeks to explain the division of the main parties in the conflict."

  • profile image

    Somtaidude 8 years ago

    Well, if ones know how much this government has been so corrupted that it's brought the country to such a huge debts...

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

    Jaimondrow - thank you for your comment. I wrote this article at the beginning of July 2009. The situation has not improved at all.

  • profile image

    Jaimondrow 8 years ago

    Regardless of who they back, the current PM (yellow dude) is playing it smart allowing the reds to cause all this trouble. The average guy on the street, as well as this foreign observer, are disgusted by the antics of the reds (throwing blood on buildings etc) while not really caring about the underlying issues. If the reds had some examples of the corruption of the current PM to point to they'd have something to talk about.

    Clearly, the coup against the red PM sucks, but the reds should have been more patient. Now, the reds just look like they are the trouble makers. I just hope and pray that the reds don't turn to violence if their 'peaceful' protesting doesn't get them anywhere.

  • profile image

    Che Promubol 8 years ago

    And i wonder what your doing there Mr Dickinson lol

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 9 years ago from South East Asia

    Thank you 'Mr. Thai American'. Your opinion is your right to express and I defend your right to express it. That is the democratic way. I am in Thailand.

  • profile image

    thai - american  9 years ago

    Mr. Peter Dickinson..I don' t think , you knew what you are talking about...and you are so stupid to say all those things...Please shut up..and stay where you are..don't go to Thailand, old man.

  • guidebaba profile image

    guidebaba 9 years ago from India

    Thank you for all the explanation and the insight.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 9 years ago from South East Asia

    There is a 'rich' and 'poor' element to the situation but fueled by corruption, lies and cheating at the political level.

    The present Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has only been in power a few months and, to me, seems a good honest man with the country his main concern. I believe he must be given a chance.

    He was condemned recently for allowing the Reds to invade the Asean summit. The Reds were being very difficult and nasty. If strong enough action had been taken to keep the Reds out a lot of blood would have been he would have been condemned for that. A no win situation.

    Whereas some of the Reds are genuine, many are gangsters in red shirts looking for a fight. Their attacks on Muslims and a Mosque in Bangkok the other day has nothing to do with politics...just violence.

    The average Thai is sick to death with the action of the Reds but few dare voice their opinion lest they get beaten up. A secret ballot at the next election will prove this.

    Right now though we don't need an election. The Prime Minister has the full support of more than 75% of the elected members of parliament and that is as 'democratic' as you can get, practically anywhere.

  • guidebaba profile image

    guidebaba 9 years ago from India

    Is the fight in Thiland a war between the rich and the poor? Is it a war between the RED and the YELLOW? I thought it is just a political war.


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