Thailand’s constitutional confusion

Constitutional confusion is not new to Thailand. There have been some twenty constitutions since 1932.

The 1997 people’s constitution is widely considered the wisest and most balanced. The trouble, for the Thai army and elite, with that constitution is that it allowed Thaksin’s various parties to be elected.

So now the country has a military junta ruling under an interim charter of its own writing that was quickly implemented in 2014.

Then last year there was a referendum on a new constitution. Only pro-charter campaigning was tolerated.

The referendum voted in favour of the new constitution.

The trouble is that the old King was too frail to have any role. He has since died to be replaced by Rama X; and Rama X wants changes made to a constitution that the Thai people have already voted for.

This is a headache for Prayuth and his military junta.

In its current form, the 2014 charter does not allow changes to be made to the final constitution draft after the referendum. Therefore the junta needs to amend the current interim coup constitution so that they can amend new draft constitution….hence constitutional confusion.

The interim constitution also requires one important change: it will be amended to remove the need for the monarch to appoint a regent when he is not in the country, or unable to perform his duties. For a new King with a home and family in Germany this is a crucial change.

Unusually for Thailand this confusion is playing out in public. Carefully worded articles have been published by the Thai media The new monarch’s intervention has raised questions about relations between the palace and the military, and about the future political landscape of Asean’s second-largest economy.

One thing is now certain. There will be no election in 2017 in Thailand.



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