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date: 29 November 2022

Thailand: Camouflaged Khakistocracy in Civil–Military Relationslocked

Thailand: Camouflaged Khakistocracy in Civil–Military Relationslocked

  • Paul W. ChambersPaul W. ChambersCenter of ASEAN Community Studies, Naresuan University

Summary

The history of civil–military relations in Thailand has paralleled the gradual post-1980 primacy of monarchical power over the country. Until 1932, the monarchy ruled absolute across Siam (Thailand). From 1932 until 1980, the military held more clout than the monarchy (though the palace slowly increased its influence after 1957). Since 1980, monarchy and military have dominated the country with the military as junior partner. The two form a khakistocracy: the military’s uniform color of khaki combined with the aristocracy (monarchy). Though there have been brief instances of elected civilian governments, all were overthrown by the military. In fact, Thailand likely holds the record for the highest number of military putsches in the world. Since the death of King Bhumipol Adulyadej in 2016, the clout of the armed forces has become more centralized under his successor and son King Maha Vajiralongkorn. At the same time, post-2019 Prime Minister (and post-2014 junta leader) General Prayuth Chanocha has sought to entrench military power across Thailand. As a result, in 2021, the monarchy and military continue to enhance authoritarian rule as a khakistocracy camouflaged behind the guise of a charade form of democracy. Civil–military relations represent exclusively a partnership between the monarch and the armed forces.

Subjects

  • Governance/Political Change
  • History and Politics
  • Political Institutions

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