Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: South East Asia, East Asia and the South Pacific - Vol. 2

By Dieter Nohlen; Florian Grotz et al. | Go to book overview

Thailand

by Michael H. Nelson*


1 Introduction

1.1 Historical Overview

With the 'revolution' in 1932, the political system of Thailand (until 1939 and between 1946-49: Siam) was switched from an absolute monarchy to a 'democracy with the King as Head of State'. Since then there have been 17 military coups (most of them successful), 21 parliamentary elections, 23 Prime Ministers (PM) presiding over 54 cabinets and 16 Constitutions. It is hoped that the large number of new structures introduced by the People's Constitution of 1997 will lead to more political stability and accountability, and will help reduce bureaucratic and political corruption and vote-buying in elections.

Thailand has never been a colony. The most important turning point in its political history was the overthrow of the absolute monarchy, in 1932. It was achieved by a small group of commoners with positions in the civil service and in the military. In the official discourse of the state, this event is regarded as the introduction of democracy in Thailand. However, the population at large played hardly any role in the coup and in the processes that followed. Rather, the ensuing period was marked by a perennial power-struggle among civilian, military, and partly royalist factions, press censorship and the prohibition of forming political parties.

In 1938, Phibul Songkhram assumed the offices of Commander-in-Chief and PM and established a nationalistic military dictatorship. In 1944 he was forced to resign because of his alliance with the Japanese, whose troops had entered Thailand. In the following four years Thailand was governed by five different PMs who presided over ten cabinets. In

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Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: South East Asia, East Asia and the South Pacific - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Elections in Asia and the Pacific i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Notes on Editors and Contributors vii
  • Technical Notes xiii
  • South East Asia 45
  • Brunei 47
  • Cambodia 53
  • Indonesia 83
  • Laos 129
  • Malaysia 143
  • Singapore 239
  • Thailand 261
  • Vietnam 321
  • East Asia 343
  • China (People's Republic) 345
  • Japan 355
  • Korea (Democratic People's Republic/ North Korea) 395
  • Korea (Republic of Korea/ South Korea) 411
  • Taiwan (Republic of China) 525
  • The South Pacific 571
  • Australia 573
  • Cook Islands 621
  • Federated States of Micronesia 633
  • Fiji Islands 643
  • Kiribati 673
  • Marshall Islands 687
  • New Zealand 705
  • Palau 741
  • Papua New Guinea 763
  • Samoa 779
  • Solomon Islands 795
  • Tonga 809
  • Tuvalu 823
  • Vanuatu 833
  • Glossary 849
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