Analyses of Thai politics from the last fifteen years have concentrated on democratisation and widening political space. The reversal of this trend since the election of the Thai Rak Thai government of Thaksin Shinawatra in February 2001 has been dramatic. The media have been suppressed and manipulated. Several reports, local and international, have criticized the abuse of human rights. Military figures have reappeared in the political front line. Pasuk Phongpaichit looks at why this change came about.