Reforming Thai politics by Duncan McCargo

By Duncan McCargo

Because 1932, Thai politics has passed through quite a few political 'reforms', usually followed through constitutional revisions and shifts within the place of energy. Following the occasions of may well 1992, there have been robust pressures from yes teams in Thai society for a primary overhaul of the political order, culminating within the drafting and promulgation of a brand new structure in 1997. even though, constitutional reform is just one small a part of a variety of attainable reforms, together with that of the electoral process, schooling, the paperwork, health and wellbeing and welfare, the media - or even the army. certainly, the industrial concern which engulfed Thailand in 1997 ended in a common wondering of the country's social and political buildings. With the unexpected finish of swift financial development, the urgency of reform and variation to Thailand's altering situations grew to become significantly extra acute. It was once by contrast heritage that the Thai parliament handed significant alterations to the electoral approach in overdue 2000, simply weeks earlier than the January 2001 election. Reflecting at the twists and turns of reform in Thailand through the years and with the 1st in-depth scholarly research of the way winning have been the hot electoral reforms, this quantity is a 'must have' for everybody attracted to Thai politics and its influence at the wider Asian political scene.

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The coup ostensibly aimed to revamp the system by creating strong executive control and undermine the influence of provincial capitalists. book Page 40 Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:03 PM REFORMING THAI POLITICS derailed, and the ‘clean’ coup degenerated inexorably into a ‘dirty’ coup. The derailment derived from the NPKC’s ambitions, which entailed formalization of the group’s power even after the restoration of constitutional democracy. This intention expressed itself in constitutional chicanery throughout 1991, when liberal and conservative projects for a stable executive form of government were scuttled by the appointment of a Constitutional Scrutiny Committee (CSC) closely connected with the coup group.

Facing economic crisis after the currency collapse of July 1997, and potential political crisis should it oppose the reform project, the incumbent government of Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, which had earlier publicly opposed the draft, reluctantly allowed it to become law. In the remaining part of this chapter I shall analyse the key social forces behind the reform movement, and I address the question of why the 1997 constitution became law, despite the strong opposition it faced. ELITES: GLOBAL IMPERATIVES AND LOCAL INITIATIVES If the passing of the constitution represented a tentative victory for liberalism, it would be wrong to imagine this is a new force in Thailand, since such currents are scattered throughout Thailand’s history (Connors 2000: 303–310).

The 1997 constitution is an important milestone in Thai politics, aimed at checking abuses of power by politicians while opening the way for a civil society movement. The constitution thus plays an important function at a historic turning point between the vertical descent of political power to the emergence of a horizontally based civil society. book Page 22 Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:03 PM REFORMING THAI POLITICS is widely recognized that civil society is a necessary condition for true democracy which brings about socio-economic development.

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