Constitution Day 2008

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn pays respect to the statue of King Rama VII in front of Parliament to commemorate the Constitution Day, December 10, 2008. (

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand is the supreme law of the Kingdom of Thailand. Since the coup backed change from the absolute to the constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thailand has had 17 charters and constitutions, reflecting the high degree of political instability and frequency of military coups faced by the nation. After successful coups, military regimes abrogated existing constitutions and promulgated interim ones.

All of Thailand’s charters and constitutions have allowed a constitutional monarchy, but with widely differing balances of power between the branches of government. Most of them have stipulated parliamentary systems, however, several of them also called for dictatorships, e.g., the 1957 Charter. Both unicameral and bicameral parliaments have been used, and members of parliament have been both elected and appointed. The direct powers of the monarch have also varied considerably.

Thailand’s first permanent constitution was promulgated in 1997. Called the “People’s Constitution”, it was considered a landmark in terms of the degree of public participation involved in its drafting as well as the democratic nature of its articles. It stipulated a bicameral legislature, both houses of which are elected. Many human rights were explicitly acknowledged, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments.

However, following an army-led coup on 19 September 2006, the 1997 Constitution was abrogated. The junta ruled the country by martial law and executive decree for weeks, until it promulgated an interim constitution on 1 October 2006. The Interim Constitution allowed the junta to appoint a Prime Minister, legislature, and drafting committee for a permanent constitution. Human rights were broadly acknowledged, but media censorship as well as bans against assembly and political activities were not repealed.

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Photo – ASTV Manager

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