Browse the listing below to find government information for Thailand, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Thailand at its
Thailand Country Page.
Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: New constitution promulgated October 11, 1997.
Independence: Never colonized; traditional founding date 1238.
Branches: Executive--king (chief of state), prime minister (head of government). Legislative--National Assembly (bicameral). Judicial--composed of the Constitutional Court, the Courts of Justice, and the Administrative Courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 76 provinces, including Bangkok municipality, subdivided into 795 districts, 81 subdistricts, 7,255 tambon administration, 69,866 villages.
Political parties: Multi-party system; Communist Party is prohibited.
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at 18 years of age.
Government of Thailand
The king has little direct power under the constitution but is a symbol of national identity and unity. King Bhumibol--who has been on the throne since 1946--commands enormous popular respect and moral authority, which he has used on occasion to resolve political crises that have threatened national stability.
Thailand's legal system blends principles of traditional Thai and Western laws. The Constitutional Court is the highest court of appeals, though its jurisdiction is limited to clearly defined constitutional issues. Its members are nominated by the Senate and appointed by the King. The Courts of Justice have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and are organized in three tiers: Courts of First Instance, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Justice. Administrative courts have jurisdiction over suits between private parties and the government, and cases in which one government entity is suing another. In Thailand's southern border provinces, where Muslims constitute the majority of the population, Provincial Islamic Committees have limited jurisdiction over probate, family, marriage, and divorce cases.
The National Assembly consists of two chambers-- the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is a non-partisan body with limited legislative powers, composed of 200 directly elected members from constituent districts, with every province having at least one Senator. The House of Representatives has 500 members, 400 of whom are directly elected from constituent districts, and the remainder drawn proportionally from party lists.
Thailand's 76 provinces include the metropolis of greater Bangkok. Bangkok's governor is popularly elected, but those of the remaining provinces are career civil servants appointed by the Ministry of Interior. Following the 1932 revolution which imposed constitutional limits on the monarchy, Thai politics were dominated for a half century by a military and bureaucratic elite. Changes of government were effected primarily by means of a long series of mostly bloodless coups.
Beginning with a brief experiment in democracy during the mid-1970s, civilian democratic political institutions slowly gained greater authority, culminating in 1988 when Chatichai Choonavan--leader of the Thai Nation Party--assumed office as the country's first democratically elected prime minister in more than a decade. Three years later, yet another bloodless coup ended his term.
Shortly afterward, the military appointed Anand Panyarachun, a businessman and former diplomat, to head a largely civilian interim government and promised to hold elections in the near future. However, following inconclusive elections, former army commander Suchinda Kraprayoon was appointed prime minister. Thais reacted to the appointment by demanding an end to military influence in government. Demonstrations were violently suppressed by the military; in May 1992, soldiers killed at least 50 protesters.
Domestic and international reaction to the violence forced Suchinda to resign, and the nation once again turned to Anand Panyarachun, who was named interim prime minister until new elections in September 1992. In those elections, the political parties that had opposed the military in May 1992 won by a narrow majority, and Chuan Leekpai, a leader of the Democratic Party, became Prime Minister. Chuan dissolved Parliament in May 1995, and the Thai Nation Party won the largest number of parliamentary seats in subsequent elections. Party leader Banharn Silpa-archa became Prime Minister but held the office only little more than a year. Following elections held in November 1996, Chavalit Youngchaiyudh formed a coalition government and became Prime Minister. The onset of the Asian financial crisis caused a loss of confidence in the Chavalit government and forced him to hand over power to Chuan Leekpai in November 1997. Chuan formed a coalition government based on the themes of prudent economic management and institution of political reforms mandated by Thailand's 1997 constitution.
In the January 2001 elections, telecommunications multimillionaire Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won an overwhelming victory on a populist platform of economic growth and development. TRT enjoys an absolute majority in the lower house of the Parliament, controlling 365 of 500 seats. In a cabinet reshuffle of October 2002, the Thaksin administration further put its stamp on the government. A package of bureaucratic reform legislation created six new ministries in an effort to streamline the bureaucratic process and increase efficiency and accountability.