The Latest Thai Constitution


New (junta) government, new constitution again. We can smirk about the nature of Thai democracy where king, army and people all get mixed up in a political system. But at least they have a referendum on any constitution change. Is that the case in Singapore? Troublesome administratively surely, but an important gesture by the junta that desperately wants to hold on to its legitimacy that it did the right thing by kicking out an elected Prime Minister who is popular with the rural north but unpopular in the urban areas and the troubled south. Election is set for December this year and the junta might keep its promise of returning power to a civilian government by then, more than one year after the bloodless coup. But if the junta decides to delay elections, what would happen?

Thai King Approves Constitution, Allowing Election
By Suttinee Yuvejwattana

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) — Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej today approved the country’s new constitution, clearing the way for a general election to be held by the end of this year.

King Bhumibol endorsed the constitution after 57.8 percent of eligible voters across the nation approved the draft in an Aug. 19 referendum. The charter was published in the royal gazette and is effective immediately, according to a statement posted on the Thai government’s web site.

The military junta, which ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a September coup, has tried to restore democracy to lessen political uncertainty. Consumer confidence in July was at a five-year low after sliding for a ninth straight month.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, installed by the junta, said Aug. 21 the election may be held on Dec. 23. The date would allow government agencies and political parties time to prepare, and avoids the king’s 80th birthday on Dec. 5.

Thaksin, through his spokesman Noppadol Pattama, said Aug. 22 that the referendum results showed that the People Power Party of his former supporters should do well in the planned election. Former Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej was today appointed as leader of the pro-Thaksin party.

In 19 northeastern pro-Thaksin provinces, 62.8 percent of voters rejected the constitution. Thailand, which has a population of more than 65 million people, has 76 provinces.

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