HOME

TheInfoList




The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand ( th, รัฐธรรมนูญแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทย; ) provides the basis for the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
in
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
. Since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has had 20 charters or constitutions (as of 2015), an average of one roughly every four years Many changes followed military coups, reflecting the high degree of political instability in the country. After each successful coup,
military regime A military dictatorship is a dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and m ...
s abrogated the existing constitution, generally without public consultation. The
1997 Constitution of Thailand The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Buddhist Era 2540 (1997) ( th, รัฐธรรมนูญแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทย พุทธศักราช ๒๕๔๐, ) was a constitution of Thailand The Con ...
, often called the "people's constitution", was considered a landmark in terms of the degree of
public participation Public participation, also known as citizen participation or patient and public involvement, is the inclusion of the public in the activities of any organization or project. Public participation is similar to but more inclusive than stakeholder en ...
involved in its drafting as well as the democratic nature of its articles. It stipulated an elected bicameral
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, and many
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
were explicitly acknowledged for the first time. Many of these reforms disappeared in the military coup of 2006. The current constitution was adopted in 2017. The 105-page, 279-article proposed constitution was approved by 61.4 percent of Thai voters with 59.4 percent of the public participating. It allows the NCPO to appoint an eight to ten person panel who will choose Senators, and includes six seats reserved for the heads of the
Royal Thai Army Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name) Royal can be a surname or a given name. Bearers include: Surname * Billy Joe Royal (1942–2015), American country music and pop singer * Calvin Royal III, American ballet dancer * Darrell Royal (1924 ...
,
Navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
, Air Force, and
Police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...
, plus the military's supreme commander, and defense permanent secretary. The bicameral Parliament could also select a candidate as
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
who is not one of its members or even a politician. Critics suggest it effectively allows the military to control the government whatever the outcome of subsequent elections.


History

The Rattanakosin Kingdom and the four traditionally counted preceding kingdoms, collectively called
Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
, had an
uncodified constitution An uncodified constitution is a type of constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may r ...
until 1932. In the preamble to the Penal Code promulgated 1 April 1908, which came into effect on 21 September, King
Chulalongkorn Chulalongkorn ( th, จุฬาลงกรณ์, 20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910) was the fifth monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or ...

Chulalongkorn
(
Rama Rama (; , ; ), Ram, Raman or Ramar, also known as Ramachandra (; , ), is a major deity in Hinduism. He is the seventh and one of the most popular ''avatars'' of Vishnu. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Be ...
V) stated: "In the ancient times the monarchs of the Siamese nation governed their people with laws which were originally derived from the Dhamasustra of
Manu Manu may refer to: Geography *Manú Province, a province of Peru, in the Madre de Dios Region **Manú National Park, Peru **Manú River, in southeastern Peru *Manu River (Tripura), which originates in India and flows into Bangladesh *Manu Temple, ...
, which was then the prevailing law among the inhabitants of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...
and the neighbouring countries." The transition from
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocracy, autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monar ...
to
constitutional democracy Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is the combination of a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a L ...
began when King
Prajadhipok Prajadhipok ( th, ประชาธิปก; RTGS: ''Prachathipok''; 8 November 1893 – 30 May 1941), reigning title Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, also Rama VII, was the seventh monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Colleg ...

Prajadhipok
(Rama VII) agreed to a
codified constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated ...
to resolve the bloodless coup of 1932. The king signed a temporary charter on 27 June 1932 at 17:00, which began by announcing that "the highest power in the land belongs to all people." A significant disadvantage of a codified constitution is that controversies arise due to different understandings of the usages and customs from which the fundamental provisions of the constitution derive. Since 1932, Thailand has had 20 charters or constitutions (as of 2015)—an average of one roughly every four years—many adopted following military coups, which reflects a high degree of political instability. After each successful coup,
military regime A military dictatorship is a dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and m ...
s abrogated existing constitutions and promulgated new ones. Parliamentary institutions, as defined by Thailand's fourteen constitutions between 1932 and 1987, and competition among civilian politicians, have generally been facades for military governments. All of these called for a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
, but with widely differing
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
between the branches of government. Most of them stipulated
parliamentary systems A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' an ...
, but several of them also called for
dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
s, e.g., the 1957 Charter. Both
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
and
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
parliaments have been used, and
members of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
have been both and appointed. The direct powers of the monarch have also varied considerably. The
2007 Constitution of Thailand The ''Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Buddhist Era 2550 (2007)'' ( th, รัฐธรรมนูญแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทย พุทธศักราช ๒๕๕๐; ) was the constitution of Thailand ...
promulgated in 2007, replacing the 2006 interim constitution promulgated after the army-led
September 2006 Thailand coup September is the ninth month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars, the third of four months to have a length of 30 days, and the fourth of five months to have a length of fewer than 31 days. September in the ...
. The 2007 Constitution was written by a group of drafters appointed by the army-led
Council for National Security The Council for National Security ( th, คณะมนตรีความมั่นคงแห่งชาติ; ) or CNS ( th, คมช.), formerly known as the Council for Democratic Reform ( th, คณะปฏิรูปการป ...
, but was approved by a public referendum. Prior to the referendum, the
military junta A military junta () is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of ...
passed a law making it illegal to publicly criticize the draft. Controversial features in the constitution included a partly-appointed Senate and amnesty for the leaders of the 2006 coup. The
1997 Constitution of Thailand The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Buddhist Era 2540 (1997) ( th, รัฐธรรมนูญแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทย พุทธศักราช ๒๕๔๐, ) was a constitution of Thailand The Con ...
, often called the "people's constitution", was considered a landmark in terms of the degree of
public participation Public participation, also known as citizen participation or patient and public involvement, is the inclusion of the public in the activities of any organization or project. Public participation is similar to but more inclusive than stakeholder en ...
involved in its drafting as well as the democratic nature of its articles. It stipulated a bicameral
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, both houses of which were elected. Many
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
were explicitly acknowledged for the first time, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments. The most recent Constitution went into effect on April 6, 2017.


Overview

Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
(today known as
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
) has had 20 constitutions and charters since the overthrow of absolute monarchy in 1932.The Council of State
Constitutions of Thailand
. This list contains two errors: it states that the sixth constitution was promulgated in 1912 (rather than 1952), and it states that the 11th constitution was promulgated in 1976 (rather than 1974).
Thanet Aphornsuvan
The Search for Order: Constitutions and Human Rights in Thai Political History
, 2001 Symposium: Constitutions and Human Rights in a Global Age: An Asia Pacific perspective
# Temporary Charter for the Administration of Siam Act 1932 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Siam 1932 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1946 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) 1947 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1949 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1932 (Revised 1952) # Charter for the Administration of the Kingdom 1959 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1968 # Interim Charter for Administration of the Kingdom 1972 # Constitution for the Administration of the Kingdom 1974 # Constitution for Administration of the Kingdom 1976 # Charter for Administration of the Kingdom 1977 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1978 # Charter for Administration of the Kingdom 1991 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1991 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 1997 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) 2006 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2007 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) 2014 # Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2017 Charters have traditionally been temporary instruments, promulgated following military coups. However, some charters, for instance the 1959 Charter of military dictator
Sarit Dhanarajata Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (also spelt ''Dhanarajata''; th, สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์, ; 16 June 1908 – 8 December 1963) was a Thai general who staged a coup in 1957, replacing Plaek Phibunsongkhram as Thailand's prime mi ...

Sarit Dhanarajata
, were used for years at a time. The 2006 coup resulted in an interim constitution rather than an interim charter. The great number of charters and constitutions since 1932 is indicative of the degree of political instability in Thailand. The majority of charters and constitutions were the direct or indirect result of military coups. Charters and constitutions for much of Thai history can be thought of not as instruments of the people to control the government, but as instruments by which a government controls its people. All of Thailand's charters and constitutions have allowed a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
. Widely varying, however, have been the strength of the
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, the percentage of legislators appointed versus elected, the power of the monarch, and the strength of the
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government) The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organiz ...
. These parameters have been influenced by the political and military strength of the regime and the degree of support from the king and the palace. For instance, the 1959 Charter gave
Sarit Dhanarajata Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (also spelt ''Dhanarajata''; th, สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์, ; 16 June 1908 – 8 December 1963) was a Thai general who staged a coup in 1957, replacing Plaek Phibunsongkhram as Thailand's prime mi ...

Sarit Dhanarajata
absolute power over the executive and the legislature, which reflected the overwhelming strength with which he executed a coup over
Plaek Pibulsonggram Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram ( th, แปลก พิบูลสงคราม ; alternatively transcribed as ''Pibulsongkram'' or ''Pibulsonggram''; 14 July 1897 – 11 June 1964), locally known as Marshal P. ( th, จอมพล ...
as well as his strong support from the palace. Based on the degree by which the legislature is elected, Thailand's 20 constitutions and charters can be categorized into three groups: # Elected legislatures: The legislature is completely elected. This included the 1946 Constitution where the elected House selected the Senate and the
1997 ConstitutionConstitution of 1997 may refer to: *Constitution of Fiji of 1997 *Constitution of Poland of 1997 *Constitution of Thailand of 1997 *Constitution of Uruguay of 1997 {{Disambiguation ...
where both the House and Senate are elected. # Appointed legislatures: The legislature is partly elected and partly appointed by the executive. The appointed members of the legislature are sufficient to limit the power of the elected representatives. The prime minister is either a military leader or a figurehead of the military or the palace. This includes the 1932 constitution (after 1937), the 1947 Charter, the 1949 Constitution, the 1952 Constitution, the 1968 Constitution, the 1974 Constitution, the 1978 Constitution, the 1991 Constitution, the 2007 Constitution, and the Pending 2016 Constitution. # Absolute executives: The executive has absolute or near absolute power, with either no legislature or a completely appointed legislature. The prime minister is usually a military leader or a figurehead of the military or the palace. This includes the 1932 Charter, the 1932 constitution (before 1937), the 1959 Charter, the 1972 Charter, the 1976 Constitution, the 1991 Charter, the 2006 Interim Charter, and the 2014 Interim Constitution.


1932 temporary charter

On 24 June 1932, the People's Party, a coalition of civil servants, princes, and army officers, seized power in a bloodless coup. A provisional constitution was sent to King
Prajadhipok Prajadhipok ( th, ประชาธิปก; RTGS: ''Prachathipok''; 8 November 1893 – 30 May 1941), reigning title Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, also Rama VII, was the seventh monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Colleg ...

Prajadhipok
along with an ultimatum from party leaders. On 26 June, the king met the party leaders and refused to sign the charter. The next day, the king met the leaders again and signed the charter. The People's Party leaders generally followed the British parliamentary structure for the temporary charter. However, there were key differences, particularly regarding the powers of the monarch. The charter began by stating that
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''superānus'', meaning "above". The roles of a sovereign v ...
power belongs to the people of
Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
.Paul M. Handley, "
The King Never Smiles ''The King Never Smiles'' is an unauthorized biography of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul M. Handley, a freelance journalist who lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Thailand. It is published by Yale University Press and was re ...
" Yale University Press: 2006,
Empowered to exercise power on behalf of the people were the People's Assembly (the
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
) a 70-member, all appointed by the Khana Ratsadon, a 15-member
People's Committee of Siam The People's Committee of Siam, ( th, คณะกรรมการราษฎร) was the first constitutional Cabinet of Siam (now Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kin ...
(the
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government) The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organiz ...
), the courts of law (the
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
), and the monarch. Members of the People's Assembly and the People's Committee were initially appointed. After 10 years or after half the population had completed
primary education Primary education is typically the first stage of formal education, coming after preschool/kindergarten and before secondary school. Primary education takes place in primary school, the elementary school or first and middle school depending on ...
, the Assembly would be completely elected.Robert B. Albritton and Thawilwadee Bureekul
Developing Democracy under a New Constitution in Thailand
, National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica Asian Barometer Project Office Working Paper Series No. 28, 2004
Eiji Murashima
Democracy and the Development of Political Parties in Thailand, 1932-1945
, Chapter 1 of Eiji Murashima, Nakharin Mektrairat, and Somkiat Wanthana, ''The Making of Modern Thai Political Parties'', Joint Research Programme Series No.86, Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo, 1991
The monarch was not held to be
infallible Infallibility refers to an inability to be wrong. It can be applied within a specific domain, or it can be used as a more general adjective. The term has significance in both epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, b ...
. He had a limited degree of
sovereign immunity Sovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, Procedural law, procedural steps, or Test (law), test, often established through precedent in the common law, through which judgments ca ...
: although he could not be prosecuted in an ordinary court of law, the Assembly could
impeach Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
and try him. The monarch did not have the right to grant
pardon A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be relieved of some or all of the legal consequences resulting from a criminal conviction. A pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the j ...

pardon
s. Several other features would be mirrored in later constitutions. The monarch would not have an absolute
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relatio ...
. Any law vetoed by the king was sent back to the Assembly, which could approve it with a simple majority. The charter followed the 1924 Palace Law with regards to
succession Succession is the act or process of following in order or sequence. Governance and politics *Order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacat ...
. The Assembly, however, reserved the right to formally approve the successor. In practice, the People's Party made many concessions to the palace in putting together the new government. The premiership and the foreign ministry were given to two hard-line royalists: Phraya Manopakorn Nitithada and Phraya Srivisan Vacha. A total of four members of the People's Committee were royalists who were not part of the People's Party. Of the 70 members of the legislature, less than half came from the People's Party, while the majority were high-ranking officials of the old regime. Despite this, the charter provoked fierce resistance from the palace. The new government reduced the palace budget and passed a taxation law that burdened the kingdom's largest landowners, who were mostly nobles. In September 1932, a senior prince threatened the king's
abdication Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and ...
if a permanent constitution did not grant the palace greater power.Scott Barme, "Luang Wichit Wathakan and the Creation of a Thai Identity, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1993, page 72


1932 constitution

The People's Party, facing an internal power struggle and opposition from the king, promulgated a permanent constitution on 10 December 1932 that gave the monarchy a significant increase in authority compared to the temporary charter. This day, 10 December, is currently celebrated as Constitution Day. The constitution continued to state that
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''superānus'', meaning "above". The roles of a sovereign v ...
power belonged to the people of
Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
. However, unlike the temporary charter, the monarchy would now be the direct exerciser of that power, rather than the branches of government. This royal power would be exercised by and with the advice and consent of the People's Assembly, the State Council (the cabinet), and the courts. However, the monarchy lacked any say in the composition of any of the branches of government and the royal veto could still be overruled. The monarchy was also made "sacred and inviolable", in contrast to the temporary charter. After the new constitution was adopted, a new 20-member cabinet was formed; 10 of whom came from the People's Party. On 7 January 1933, the Nationalist Party ( th, คณะชาติ) was officially registered, with Luang Vichitvadakan, Phraya Thonawanikmontri, and Phraya Senasongkhram as leaders. The People's Party had been officially registered in August 1932. The Assembly was expanded to 156 members, 76 elected and 76 appointed.


Demands for constitutional reform

On 31 January 1933, the king sent a letter to the premier requesting that all political parties be abolished. On 14 April, the premier disbanded the People's Party. He later adjourned the legislature and reshuffled the leadership of the army, giving leadership to Phraya Phichaisongkhram and Phraya Sri Sithi Songkhram, both military leaders during the absolute monarchy. On 20 June, the remnants of the People's Party military faction seized power and reinstated the legislature. In August 1933, the government began registering candidates for village representatives who would cast votes in indirect elections for half of the legislature. It also started registering candidates for the legislature. Elections in some provinces started in October, but most were held in November. In the midst of the elections, in October 1933, royalist factions led by Prince Boworadej and Phraya
Sri Sitthi Songkhram Phraya Si Sitthisongkhram ( th, พระยาศรีสิทธิสงคราม) or birth name Din Tharap ( th, ดิ่น ท่าราบ; 10 May 1891–23 October 1933) was a Thailand, Siamese career army officer. He became chief ...
led a rebellion against the government. After two weeks of violent fighting, during which Bangkok was bombed and
Sri Sitthi Songkhram Phraya Si Sitthisongkhram ( th, พระยาศรีสิทธิสงคราม) or birth name Din Tharap ( th, ดิ่น ท่าราบ; 10 May 1891–23 October 1933) was a Thailand, Siamese career army officer. He became chief ...
was killed, the People's Party defeated the rebels. Prince Boworadej fled abroad. Prince King
Prajadhipok Prajadhipok ( th, ประชาธิปก; RTGS: ''Prachathipok''; 8 November 1893 – 30 May 1941), reigning title Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, also Rama VII, was the seventh monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Colleg ...

Prajadhipok
, who claimed neutrality during the conflict, fled to England a few weeks after the defeat. From London, the king issued an ultimatum: in exchange for his return, and the legitimacy it lent to the People's Party, the king demanded several constitutional reforms. These included the right to select half of the legislature, control over the royal budget, and veto power that could be overridden only by a three-fourths majority of the legislature. The king also demanded the right to try capital cases, in this case, to free rebel soldiers. At the time, ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'' reported that the king also threatened to sell the throne's substantial assets, including land, palaces, and the
Emerald Buddha The Emerald Buddha ( th, พระแก้วมรกต , or ) is an image of the meditating Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni) ...

Emerald Buddha
. The People's Party rejected the ultimatum, and in March 1935, Prajadhipok abdicated. Direct democratic elections for half of the People's Assembly were first held on 7 November 1937. Women had the right to vote and stand for elections.


1946 constitution

At the end of the
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the
collaborationist Collaborationism is cooperation with the enemy against one's country of citizenship in wartime. The term is most often used to describe the cooperation of civilians with the occupying Axis Powers, especially Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, ...
leadership (including Marshal Plaek) was arrested and tried for
war crimes A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war d ...
, democratic elections for the entire People's Assembly were first held, and the young King
Ananda Mahidol Ananda Mahidol ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหาอานันทมหิดล; ; 20 September 1925 – 9 June 1946), posthumous reigning title Phra Athamaramathibodin, was the eighth monarc ...

Ananda Mahidol
returned to Thailand for the first time in seven years. King Ananda Mahidol had just come of age, turning 20 in September 1945, and returned with his
mother A mother is the female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chro ...
and Prince
Bhumibol Bhumibol Adulyadej ( th, ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช; ; ; 5 December 192713 October 2016), conferred with the title King Bhumibol the Great in 1987 (officially conferred by King Vajiralongkorn in 2019), was the ninth Monarchy of ...
in December 1945. A new constitution, Thailand's most democratic until the enactment of the 1997 People's constitution, was drafted in his honor.Paul Chambers
Good governance, political stability, and constitutionalism in Thailand 2002: The state of democratic consolidation five years after the implementation of the 1997 constitution
King Prajadhipok's Institute, 10 August 2002
In 1972, Pridi Banomyong called it the constitution that gave the Thai people the most complete democratic rights,Pridi Banomyong
"Some Aspects of the Establishment of the People's Party and Democracy"
1972
though these guarantees were later surpassed by those of the 1997 and 2007 constitutions. One key difference from previous constitutions was that the House of Representatives would, for the first time, be fully elected by the people (176 members). A Senate (80 members) was also established, which would, unlike the British
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, be elected by the House for six-year terms. In addition, active civil servants and soldiers were banned from serving in the parliament or cabinet, thus reducing the power of the military. A ban on senior princes participating in electoral politics was repealed, thus precluding only the king and four other people from politics. The constitution was promulgated on 9 May 1946. One month later, on 9 June 1946, the king was found shot to death. His death was soon followed by a military uprising on 8 November 1947 that abrogated the 1946 constitution.


1947 charter

The military overthrew the elected government of Rear Admiral Thamrong Navasavat on 8 November 1947, amid the political chaos that followed the official finding that the mysterious death of King
Ananda Mahidol Ananda Mahidol ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหาอานันทมหิดล; ; 20 September 1925 – 9 June 1946), posthumous reigning title Phra Athamaramathibodin, was the eighth monarc ...

Ananda Mahidol
was not due to suicide. The coup restored power to Marshal Plaek, and was supported by
Phin Choonhavan Field marshal (Thailand), Field Marshal Phin Choonhavan ( th, ผิน ชุณหะวัณ; ; August 14, 1891- 26 January 1973) was a Thai military leader and Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. Phin was a leader of several coups against the ...

Phin Choonhavan
,
Seni Pramoj Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj ( th, หม่อมราชวงศ์เสนีย์ ปราโมช, , ; 26 May 190528 July 1997) was three times the List of Prime Ministers of Thailand, Prime Minister of Thailand, a politician in the Dem ...
, and the palace. The coup leaders alleged that government corruption had demeaned the sacredness of King Ananda's 1946 Constitution, as proven by the appearance of vultures at the . Vultures had also appeared in Ayutthaya before it fell to the Burmese, and this was used as justification for the military's coup. The regent, Prince
Rangsit Rangsit ( th, รังสิต) is a city and neighbourhood in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand. Rangsit is a metropolitan city that supports the expansion of Bangkok in the north. Rangsit has become a departure point for travel to provinces in no ...
officially accepted the coup within 24 hours and immediately promulgated the new charter the coup leaders had drafted. The king, who at the time was studying in
Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Gros-de-Vaud District, Gros-de-Vaud in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. History Bottens is first me ...

Lausanne
, endorsed the coup and the charter on 25 November, noting "Those who were involved in this operation do not desire power for their own good, but aim only to strengthen the new government which will administer for the prosperity of the nation and for the elimination of all the ills suffered presently." The new charter gave the palace a persistent demand: a permanent Supreme State Council (later to be transformed into the Privy Council) to advise the monarch and handle his personal affairs. The council would be composed of five members, appointed by the monarch and acting as a regency council in his absence. The Supreme State Council had been banned after the 1932 revolution. The palace was also given increased control over its own operations, including the royal household, the privy purse, and the royal guards. The king was given several emergency prerogatives, such as the ability to
declare war A declaration of war is a formal act by which one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Globa ...
and
martial law Martial law is the temporary imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions or suspension of civil law by a government, especially in response to a temporary emergency where civil forces are overwhelmed, or in an occupied te ...
. A monarch-appointed senate with 100 members was established, equal in size to the house of representatives. As in previous constitutions, the monarch still did not have an absolute veto. However, the monarch-appointed senate could, through a simple majority over the combined houses of parliament, sustain a royal veto. The chairman of the Supreme State Council had to countersign any royal orders in order to make them official (when the constitution was announced, Bhumibol Adulyadej was still a minor and the privy council performed the king's regnal duties on his behalf. Thus in practice, the Supreme Council of State itself selected and appointed senators and had the power of veto). The ban on civil servants and soldiers serving in parliament and the cabinet was removed. Another key change stated that the policies of one government could not be altered by a succeeding government without royal approval. A multi-member constituency system replaced the single member constituency system which had been in effect since 1932. The minimum age of electoral candidates was raised from 23 to 35. Numerous MPs elected under the 1946 constitution had been under the age of 30, but were ineligible under the junta's constitution. Surprisingly, the palace/privy council rejected the slate of senate appointees proposed by the military. It instead filled the senate with princes, nobles, and palace-friendly businessmen, leaving only eight appointees from the military's slate. With control over palace operations, the palace purged nearly 60 officials, clearing out earlier appointees from previous governments. Khuang Aphaiwong was appointed prime minister, and it was agreed that a new constitution would be drafted following House elections, which occurred on 29 January 1948. The Seni Pramoj and Khuang Aphaiwong-led Democrats won a majority and appointed a cabinet packed with palace allies. Tension between the military and the palace increased, until in April, a group of generals met with Khuang and Prince Rangsit, successfully demanding that Khuang resign and Marshal Plaek be appointed premier.


1949 constitution

The constitution of 1949 was promulgated on 23 January 1949 as a permanent instrument to replace the temporary 1948 charter. The drafting committee was headed by
Seni Pramoj Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj ( th, หม่อมราชวงศ์เสนีย์ ปราโมช, , ; 26 May 190528 July 1997) was three times the List of Prime Ministers of Thailand, Prime Minister of Thailand, a politician in the Dem ...
and dominated by royalists under the direction of Prince
Rangsit Rangsit ( th, รังสิต) is a city and neighbourhood in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand. Rangsit is a metropolitan city that supports the expansion of Bangkok in the north. Rangsit has become a departure point for travel to provinces in no ...

Rangsit
and Prince Dhani. The 1949 constitution elevated the throne to its most powerful position since the 1932 overthrow of the absolute monarchy. The Supreme Council of State was transformed into a nine-person
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's per ...
. For the first time, members this council would be selected by the
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
alone. A 100-member senate would also be selected by the king alone. The president of the privy council, rather than the prime minister, would countersign all laws. The king's veto was strengthened, with a two-thirds vote of parliament required to overrule it. The king could issue his own decrees with authority equal to that of the government. The king also gained the power to call for a
plebiscite A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...
, the ability to amend the constitution via public referendum, bypassing parliament and the government. At succession, the privy council would name an heir, not parliament.


1952 constitution

On 29 November 1951, as the king was returning to Thailand from Switzerland via ship, the military seized power from Privy Council President Dhani, abrogated the 1949 constitution, and appointed Marshal Plaek as regent. A single 123-member national assembly was appointed, 103 of whom were from the military or police. The assembly re-used the 1932 constitution with some additional amendments, namely allowing a privy council rather than a supreme council of state and using multi-member legislative constituencies rather than single-member constituencies. Half of the legislature was appointed. After much confrontation between the government and the palace in early 1952, the king promulgated the constitution unchanged on 8 March 1952. Democratic elections were held for half of the legislature in March 1952. Nearly all of the appointed parliamentary members were army officers. Legislative elections were held again in March 1957.


1959 charter

On the evening of 16 September 1957, General
Sarit Dhanarajata Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (also spelt ''Dhanarajata''; th, สฤษดิ์ ธนะรัชต์, ; 16 June 1908 – 8 December 1963) was a Thai general who staged a coup in 1957, replacing Plaek Phibunsongkhram as Thailand's prime mi ...

Sarit Dhanarajata
seized power from the government of Marshal Plaek (for additional information on the King's role in the coup, see Bhumibol Adulyadej's role in Thai politics). Sarit abrogated the 1952 constitution, abolished the national assembly, declared martial law, and ruled via a revolutionary council. Sarit and his successors deified the
throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor