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Constitution-Making in the 21st Century Thailand: The Continuing Search for Perfect Paper

[published in the Chinese Journal of Comparative Law 2019]

By Andrew Harding and Rawin Leelapatana


1. Introduction
Since the 1932 Revolution that changed the system of government in Thailand from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, the country has intermittently been convulsed by a succession of periods of political instability. For the last 87 years Thailand has oscillated between military (or military-backed) dictatorial rule and civilian government under a liberal, multi-party democracy, witnessing13 successful coups and 20 constitutions, the latest constitution being that of 2017. Notwithstanding the 1997 reforms aimed at halting this ‘vicious cycle’ of coups and constitutions, the constitutional and political stabilityThailand has sought seems to be even more elusive in the 21st century than it was in the 20th, following the occurrence from 2006 onwards of ‘colour-coded politics’ or conflict between the ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’ factions. The conflict between these two factions led t…