Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 October 2015
• Amendment of the Thai constitution of 2007, a charter drafted under the supervision of the putschists who seized state power in Thailand in September 2006, numbered among the promises made by Yinglak Shinawatra and her Phuea Thai party in their campaign for the July 2011 general elections.
• To date, however, the Yinglak government has proved unable to fulfil that promise.
• In 2012, Thailand's Constitutional Court thwarted its initial effort to amend the charter. This year, the government has launched a second effort, once more under the close scrutiny of that court. The ongoing struggle over constitutional amendment in Thailand reflects the paradoxes of Thai constitutionalism.
• Those paradoxes suggest that the framing of a durable constitution for Thailand must await the resolution of fundamental questions about the country's political order.
In January 2001, telecommunications tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra led his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party to a decisive victory over the Democrat Party in polls for the lower house of the Thai parliament. At least two distinguishing features marked these polls. First, they were the inaugural general elections held under Thailand's putatively reformist constitution of 1997. In an attempt to introduce and give institutional integrity to a new order for Thai parliamentary democracy, that constitution had created a series of independent bodies. These bodies included Thailand's first Constitutional Court.
The 1997 constitution also introduced for the first time elections for the upper house of Thailand's parliament, the senate. A second feature also distinguished Thailand's 2001 elections: TRT campaigned on the basis of a series of specific policy proposals, including several relating to local development funds and lowcost access to health care. A third significant departure duly followed TRT's electoral victory: in power, the party actually moved to act on its campaign promises. Fulfilment of such promises became what would prove a lasting hallmark of Thaksinite government in Thailand.
This 1997 constitution was abrogated following the September 2006 coup d’état which ousted Thaksin from his premiership. In 2007 the military appointed the National Legislative Assembly to draft a new constitution which was subsequently approved through a referendum in 2007.
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