Thailand has since practiced a coup in spring
2014 in practice ruled by the military. When the country
went to the general elections in March 2019, it was
indeed the largest opposition party for Thailand,
followed by the military support party. However, the
military was able to retain government power through the
support of the military appointed senate.
When the parliamentary elections were announced in
early 2019 - after being pushed five times - the
military had managed to rattle off its own continuing
political influence. It had done so, partly through a
new permanent constitution that came into force in 2017
(see Political system), and partly by pushing the free
media and political opposition around the
corruption-convicted and fugitive former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra (see Modern history).
Country facts and history of Thailand, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Thai domestic politics is characterized by a power
struggle between supporters of a traditional power elite
- the military, the royal house and Bangkok's middle
class - and the group that sympathizes with the Thaksin
camp, mainly rural residents in the east and north.
In May 2014, the military appointed a people-elected
government, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of
Thaksin. The takeover took place after over six months
of government-critical demonstrations in Bangkok. In
July and August of the same year, the military junta
appointed a temporary government, a temporary
legislative assembly and adopted a temporary
constitution. Many of those appointed in the temporary
institutions were military. In practice, the military
council itself retained far-reaching powers.
Switch on the king's throne
On October 13, 2016, King Bhumibol passed away after
several years of faltering health. He had been sitting
on the throne since 1946. The vast majority of Thais
enjoyed great respect for Bhumibol, which some
considered to be almost divine. The monarch was
considered the guarantor of the country's cohesion.
Fifty days after Bhumibol's death, Crown Prince Maha
Vajiralongkorn formally assumed the throne and became
Thailand's new king under the name of Rama X.
Vajiralongkorn, lacking the father's popularity,
gradually gained more influence over himself and his
inner circle. He dismissed several powerful court
officials from Bhumibol's time as monarch. Vajiralong
barley, which itself has a military background, has
close ties to the military command. This gave him, among
other things, the right to appoint the leader of the
country's influential monk.
At King Vajiralongkorn's request, in 2017 a number of
constitutional changes were made that can be said to
strengthen the royal power and give the court the
opportunity to intervene in a political deadlock. The
king was given control over five government agencies
that regulate some of the court's functions and the
security of the palace. In the past, the government or
the military had control over these authorities. Nor
does the monarch need to appoint an acting head of state
when he is abroad.
The royal family is protected by strict so-called
majesty laws, which put a gag on open debate and
criticism of the royal house. Statements that may be
perceived as slanderous by the royal house and thus
contrary to the law of majesty can provide up to 15
years in prison per crime. The military and the courts
are also protected from criticism by the law.
Deputy Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was
sentenced in September 2017 in his absence to five years
in prison for neglect in his role as head of government
in connection with a loss-making government program for
subsidies to the country's rice farmers, an important
voting group for Yingluck and her political grouping.
Yingluck denied the crime and considered himself
politically persecuted by his opponents in politics and
the military. She left the country some time before the
Parliamentary elections are held
In January 2019, the government announced that the
heavily delayed parliamentary elections would be held on
March 24. A month earlier, the ban on political parties
to run election campaigns had been lifted. The Thaksin
camp was gathered in the Party Thailand, while the
People's State Power Party was the military support
party. Many young Thai people applied for the newly
formed Party New Future.
A surprising appointment at the beginning of the
electoral movement led to a backlash for the opposition.
On February 8, the Thaksin-friendly Thai Raksa Chart
announced that the king's big sister, Princess
Ubolratana, has been named the party's prime ministerial
candidate. The decision, not least, surprised the
military, which often motivates its political power
holdings by protecting the monarchy. Ubolratana has
formally renounced its royal title.
King Vajiralongkorn quickly established that the
sister's political ambitions were "inappropriate" in a
constitutional monarchy, and her candidacy was
subsequently disqualified by the electoral authority.
Thai Raksa Chart accepted the decision. In March, the
party was dissolved by the Constitutional Court as a
result of the trips around the princess. The court ruled
that the royal family should be above politics.
On the same day that the princess announced her
candidacy, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha also
announced that he would stand as Prime Ministerial
candidate for the People's State Power Party.
The official election result gave the opposition
around Shinawatra the most votes, but in order to gain
real power, the opposition must win 376 of the 500 seats
in the House of Representatives (that is, 75 percent of
the vote in the election), as the 250-strong Senate is
military-appointed. Through the senators, the
military-backed camp needed only secure 126 seats (25
percent of the vote) (see Political system).
As expected, Prime Minister Prayut was re-elected by
Parliament's two chambers in early June 2019 and the
following month his new government took office.
New future is forbidden
In November 2019, New Future leader Thanathorn
Juangroongruangkit appeared to face the same fate as
many critics of the establishment before him; the
Constitutional Court then deprived the opposition leader
of his place in parliament. The reason was that he was
accused of owning shares in a media company when he was
running for parliament, which is not allowed in
Thailand. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit denied the
charges and said the decision was politically motivated.
A new future had earlier voted in favor of a series of
legislative changes that strengthened the king's powers.
In February 2020, the Constitutional Court decided to
dissolve the New Future. At the same time, the court
banned party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and 15
other high-ranking party members from engaging in Thai
politics for the next ten years. The reason for the
decisions was that the court considered that New Future
financed the party activity illegally when it received a
loan from the party leader. New future 65 MPs were given
60 days to join other political parties.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
Read about the armed conflict in southern Thailand
READING TIP - read more about
Thailand in UI's web magazine Foreign Magazine:
Authoritarian regimes spread in the
countries of Southeast Asia (2018-10-09).
FACTS - POLITICS
Prathet Thai or Muang Thai / Kingdom of Thailand
monarchy, unitary state
Head of State
King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X; 2016–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha (2014–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
For Thailand 136, People's State Party 115, New
Future 80, Democratic Party 52, Thai Pride 50, Other
Parties 65, unallocated 2 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
For Thailand 265, Democratic Party 159, Thai Pride
34, Thai National Development 19, Chon Buri's Force 7,
National Development Party 7, Five Small Parties 9
75% in the July 2011 parliamentary elections, 70% in
the March 2019 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections 2023
Thaksin followers win new election
When elections are held for the House of Representatives, the Right Party
wins the People's Power Party (PPP), which gathers the supporters of Thaksin.
PPP receives 233 of the 480 seats. The Democratic Party wins 165 seats, while
the Thaination gets 37 seats and 24 Thai seats for Thais. The Neutral Democratic
Party receives 9 seats, the Thailand's United National Development Party 7 and
the Royal People's Party 5 seats.
The constitution is approved in a referendum
The constitution is accepted by a majority of voters in a referendum.
Thaksin's party is banned
Thaksin's party Thais love Thais (TRT) is banned by the Constitutional Court.
The reason given is that the party is guilty of electoral fraud in connection
with the 2005 parliamentary elections.
New constitution is adopted
A proposal for a new constitution is accepted by a committee appointed by the