Thailand Government and Politics

State and politics

Thailand Country Flag

Reference: Thailand Flag Meaning


According to, Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The country’s current king and head of state Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) took office on December 1, 2016; the official coronation took place on May 4, 2019. Since the abolition of the absolute monarchy in 1932, the king in the country’s constitutions has usually only been given ceremonial duties, but the regent has great symbolic power. Former King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), who reigned for 70 years, intervened several times in political crises and his economic philosophy has had an impact on development policy in the country. The current constitution, the country’s twentieth in order, gave the king extended formal power. The constitution was approved in a referendum in 2016 and became effective in 2017.

The military has since called the war a great influence on politics in Thailand and has repeatedly seized power through coups. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of TH and its meanings of Thailand. In modern times, the country has alternated between parliamentary democracy and military rule. As a result of the political turbulence, Thailand’s party system is relatively weak and many parties are short-lived phenomena built around a prominent person.

Parliament consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. According to the 2017 Constitution, the Senate is to consist of 250 party-politically independent senators, who are appointed by the army and representatives of all sectors of society. The term of office is five years. The House of Representatives’ 500 members are elected for four years in general and direct elections.


In May 2014, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (born 1967), sister of Thaksin Shinawatra (Prime Minister 2001-06), was deposed by the Constitutional Court after she was found guilty of abuse of power. After major demonstrations in Bangkok against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, the army introduced a state of emergency and the military then took government power through a coup d’谷tat in May 2014. In August 2014, Army Chief Prayuth Chan-o-cha (born 1954) was appointed interim prime minister as leader of the so-called National Council for peace and order.

After the military took power, martial law was introduced throughout the country and the constitution of 2007 was replaced by a temporary one. Demonstrations and political gatherings were banned. Political activists, journalists, university lecturers and students were arrested on unclear grounds and detained indefinitely in secret places. In March 2015, the laws of war were abolished but exceptions laws and the severe restrictions on freedoms and rights could be maintained with the support of the temporary constitution.

A new constitution was approved through a referendum in August 2016. Prior to the referendum, it was forbidden to debate or disseminate negative opinion about the constitution as well as to call for a boycott. Before the constitution was finally adopted in April 2017, changes were introduced that gave King Maha Vajiralongkorn extended powers.

In March 2019, general elections were held after almost five years of military rule. No party won a clear majority and there was uncertainty about which parties could form government. At the beginning of June, Parliament elected Prayut Chan-o-cha, leader of the party Palang Pracharat (“People’s Power Party”), as prime minister. With 116 seats, the party became second largest in the House of Representatives after the Pheu Thai (‘For Thailand’) founded by Thaksin Shinawatra, which received 136 seats. The new party Anakhot Mai (‘New Future’), led by the company leader and billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (born 1978), became third largest with 81 seats.

The Thanator also ran for the Prime Minister’s post, supported by six opposition parties. The Thai Raksa Chart Party (‘Thais Save the Nation’), a support party for Pheu Thai, nominated the Prime Minister’s post during the election campaign, Princess Ubolratana (born 1951). The nomination was condemned by the king, after which the party was punished with dissolution. See also History.


The legal order in Thailand was codified during the first half of the 20th century in accordance with French, German, Japanese and Swiss models. Thailand has a Civil and Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure Law and Criminal Procedure Law. The judicial system consists of the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, to which are added a number of special courts. The death penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

Since the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thailand has been dominated by military rule. A longer period of democracy began with general elections in 1992 following popular protests against the then military power. In 2006, the military carried out a coup d’谷tat against a people-elected government, which was repeated in 2014 after a couple of years of political strife. After the 2014 military coup, special regulations were introduced that severely encumbered political freedoms and rights (see History).

Exceptional laws have often been used by the Thai state to expedite or circumvent legal proceedings. An emergency law was introduced in 2003 under civil rule to carry out the state-led war on drugs, which led to almost 3,000 extrajudicial executions. The state of emergency and emergency laws were introduced in 2004 in the three southernmost regions to fight different groups of separatists.

In 2010, a series of temporary regulations were introduced to curb political resistance. Mass demonstrations in Bangkok in April and May 2010 were killed by police and military and resulted in over 90 dead. No one has been held responsible. In many cases, military and police enjoy impunity. Corruption is widespread in both the state and the judiciary.

Torture, arbitrary detention, and compulsory disappearance are areas that Thailand has long been criticized for. Although Thailand ratified the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in 2007, torture has not been criminalized to date (2017). Nor has the Convention on Protection against Forced Disappearances signed by Thailand in 2012, ratified or led to legislative changes criminalizing enforced disappearances. Many human rights activists have disappeared or been murdered without their case being cleared up in any legal process.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is severely limited in Thailand and censorship is widespread. Since the coup in 2006, the number of cases of l豕se-majest谷 has increased, a law that exists to protect the monarchy against slander, but which is widely used to silence opposition voices. During the 2000s, data laws were tightened, which in practice restricted freedom and rights. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2017, the country is ranked 142 out of 180 countries.

Women are discriminated against by lower wages and under-representation in politics. Legislation exists against domestic violence, but physical and sexual violence against women is common. Abortion is illegal unless the woman’s life is in danger. Prostitution is prohibited by law, but there are estimated to be around 300,000 prostitutes in the country, of which 20 percent are children.

Since 2004, the country has a law on the protection of children which stipulates that all citizens have an obligation to report suspected child abuse. Very young children from countries such as Burma, Laos and Cambodia are used for both domestic work and the sex industry. Trafficking in human beings from the poor neighboring countries is widespread and many of the victims live under slave-like conditions.

The country’s handling of refugees has faced strong international criticism. Forced deportations of thousands of refugees to Laos have occurred and boat refugees from the Muslim minority group Rohingya from Burma have on several occasions been towed out to sea and left to their fate.

Heads of State

Kings (of the Chakrid dynasty)

1782-1809 Phra Phutthayotfa (Rama I)
1809-24 Phra Phutthaloetla (Rama II)
1824-51 Phra Nangklao (Rama III)
1851-68 Mongkut (Rama IV)
1868-1910 Chulalong grain (Rama V)
1910-25 Vajiravudh (Rama VI)
1925-35 Prajadhipok (Rama VII)
1935-46 Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII)
1946-2016 Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)
2016- Maha Vajiralong Grain (Rama X)

Thailand Head of Government

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