A Capital Challenge

Watching the attempts of the red-shirts to change the Thai government by bringing Bangkok to a standstill, I was reminded of the observation that Alberto Alesina and Ed Glaeser make in their book Fighting Poverty. In countries where the largest city is also the capital, it’s easier for mass movements to bring about populist reforms. For example you could mobilise a bigger crowd in Paris or Brussels than you could in Washington DC or Ottawa, which goes part way towards explaining the different political complexion of the two sets of countries.

At this point, I wonder if Thai leadership are ruing the eighteenth-century decision to move the seat of government from Thonburi to Bangkok?

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3 Responses to A Capital Challenge

  1. A compelling argument for Canberra?

  2. Andrew Carr says:

    Very interesting idea.

    Canberra’s also very well set up(I don’t think deliberately) to dent populist protests. While there is space in front of the parliaments (less now than there used to be), its a trek to reach from the city. I’ve seen at least a dozen protests talk about wanting to march to parliament but finding it too hard to get enough numbers/energy/approval to take over roads etc.

    Though our leaders are only ever in Canberra to legislate, (and Canberra is badly under-represented in the chambers) so perhaps this effect is downplayed here as our MP’s spend more time in their bigger home cities.

  3. One of the reasons the Burmese junta moved their capital from Rangoon to the empty Nay pyi daw! Coup prevention by cartography!

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