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(June 21, 2023) A Reflection on Thai Politics

While some of Thailand’s neighbours have discarded authoritarianism and military rule to become successful democracies, Thailand has since 1932 been struggling to transform itself from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy within a democratic setting. The current constitution of Thailand, introduced in 2017 by the military authority, turned Thailand into a quasi-democracy. A move towards liberal democracy has not occurred in Thailand because nobody in power has ventured out of their bubble to talk to other important players in Thai society.

Thailand has gone through many exercises of constitutional drafting, the contents of which usually reflect the desires and aspirations of whoever was in power at the time. In short, the drawing up of all past and present Thai constitutions has been of the elites’ making. Only the 1997 Constitution was considered the people’s constitution, as its drafters came from many walks of life. In contrast, the Constitution of 2017 was drafted by two dozen personalities appointed by the coup leaders and carried out under the purview and direction of the military junta. (The 250-member Senate contains six serving generals from the armed forces and the police.)