Thailand flag Thailand: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Thailand

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X (since 13 December 2016) – hereditary
Prime Minister: Srettha Thavisin (since 5 September 2023)
Next Election Dates
Senate: 2024
House of Representatives: May 2027
Current Political Context
Although protests advocating for reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha diminished in 2022, the government grappled with escalating public and political dissatisfaction. In July 2022, the Prime Minister and his administration weathered their fourth no-confidence vote since assuming office in 2019.
Throughout much of its coup-prone modern history, Thailand has been governed by a small yet influential clique deeply entrenched in the military, royalist circles, and business elite. However, in recent years, this establishment has faced its most significant challenge in decades, as young people demand extensive reforms. The May 2023 election marked a notable shift, with progressive parties securing widespread support and voters delivering a strong rebuke to the military-backed leadership that has dominated Thailand since the 2014 coup. Furthermore, it marked the first instance in over two decades that a party associated with Thaksin had lost an election. The emergence of newcomers like the Move Forward Party, known for its reformist agenda, garnered substantial support among Thailand's youth.
In August 2023, the Thai Parliament averted a looming political crisis by ultimately selecting a new prime minister, marking the return of one of the nation's most divisive figures after a 15-year self-imposed exile. Thai lawmakers elected real estate mogul and political novice Srettha Thavisin from the populist Pheu Thai party as the country's 30th prime minister. This resolution concluded three months of deadlock, albeit with the party forming a governing coalition alongside its historical military adversaries. Srettha garnered 482 votes out of a total of 747 across both houses of parliament, significantly surpassing the majority required to secure the premiership. It is noteworthy that under Thailand's constitution, which was drafted in the aftermath of the 2014 military coup, the unelected Senate is predominantly composed of military appointees and wields significant influence over the formation of governments and the selection of prime ministers.
Main Political Parties
Thailand maintains a multi-party system, but traditional political parties have seen their role reduced in the parliament since the military-led coup in 2014. Currently, the main parties represented in the House of Representatives are:

- Pheu Thai Party (PTP); centre-right, it is the current majority ruling party.
- Move Forward: Social-democratic, progressive. It is the main opposition party.
- Bhumjaithai: Centrist focusing on rural interests.
- Palang Pracharat: Right-wing supportive of the military establishment.
- United Thai Nation: Nationalist, advocating for Thai interests.
- Chart Thai Pattana Party: Regionalist emphasizing agricultural policies.
- Prachachart: Populist focusing on grassroots issues.
- Pheu Thai Ruam Palang: Factional group within Pheu Thai.
- Chart Pattana Kla: Focused on economic development.
- Thai Liberal: Advocating for liberal policies.
- Democrat: Center-right.
- Thai Sang Thai: Nationalist.
- Fair Party: Advocates for fairness.

Executive Power
Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy. The King is the Chief of State and the Monarchy is hereditary. Traditionally, he has little direct power but benefits from enormous popular respect and moral authority, which has been used on occasion to resolve political crises and ensure national stability. Official power rests with the government. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government and holds all the executive powers including implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. Under the new Constitution approved in April 2017, individuals outside of parliament can serve as Prime Minister. The cabinet is appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Thailand’s 77 provinces each administered by an appointed Governor are divided into districts, sub-districts (tambons) and villages.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Thailand is bicameral. The parliament of the country is the National Assembly. It consists of the Senate (the upper house) with 250 seats, all its members appointed by the Royal Thai Military, under the new Constitution adopted in April 2017, to serve five-year terms (the Senate appointed in 2024 will consist of 200 members elected from various groups of professionals for a 5-year term); and the House of Representatives (the lower house) with 500 seats, its members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms (375 directly elected through single constituency elections and 125 elected through party-list proportional representation). The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The Government cannot veto the acts passed by the parliament.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
137/180

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Not Free
Political Freedom:
7/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: February 2024