More than one year after seizing control of the government in a coup, the military shows no signs of relinquishing its hold on power. In April, Thailand’s junta lifted the martial law that had been in effect since last May. However, that move was not a step toward reform. Instead, the prime minister was given a great deal of control.

The junta implemented Article 44 of the constitution. This gives Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former general who is now Thailand’s prime minister, near total control of the political system.

Under the provision, Prayuth has the ability to override the legislative and judicial branches at his sole discretion.

There is little reason to expect the dynamic will change in the months ahead. The US and other historical allies have attempted to encourage the government to alter course and move toward a more democratic system, which might be one reason why the martial law was rescinded. Yet Prayuth himself has indicated he has no plans to surrender power, and has made clear that holding elections is not a high priority.

In The Spotlight

In the meantime, authorities are taking steps to marginalize the allies of the country’s exiled former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, beginning with members of his immediate family. Yingluck Shinawatra, who was elected prime minister in her brother’s stead, but was forced from office in the 2014 coup, is currently being tried on charges of criminal negligence related to a rice subsidy program implemented by her administration.

While it is possible the trial against Yingluck will motivate the red-shirted pro-Thaksin forces to launch a campaign of mass protests, the repressive measures employed by Prayuth makes such a development unlikely for the time being. Moreover, the junta’s control over the drafting of the new constitution—the 250-member National Reform Council tasked with writing the document consists of individuals chosen by Prayuth —means the political landscape will be tilted heavily in favor of the military and the monarchy for the foreseeable future.


The PRS Group
About The Author The PRS Group
The PRS Group is a leading global provider of political and country risk analysis and forecasts, covering 140 countries. Based on proprietary, quantitative risk models, the firm's clientele includes financial institutions, multilateral agencies, and trans-national firms.

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