Thailand, officially Prathet Thai or Muang Thai, German Kingdom of Thailand, until 1939 and 1946–49 Siam (formerly also Sayam), state in Southeast Asia with 69.4 million residents (2018); The capital is Bangkok.
Strong position of the military
In September 1957, Pibul Songgram was overthrown by a coup by the military leadership and the constitution was repealed. Since then, the army’s pre-existing influence on Thai politics has increased. In the constant change of different constitutions (1968, 1974 and 1978) Thailand vacillated between a more authoritarian system of rule and the development of democratic structures. The »despotic paternalism« of Pibul Songgram was followed by the dictatorships of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (* 1908, † 1963) and then the officer group around Thanom Kittikachorn (* 1911, † 2004) and Praphas Charusathien (* 1912, † 1997)). In order to develop new resources and to secure the continuation of power, was under Sarit Thanaratindustrialization initiated. At the same time, the kingship was upgraded and given a role legitimizing power. The rapid economic development, the incipient urbanization and educational expansion was followed by far-reaching social change. Regional imbalances in the population structure between Bangkok and the provinces (especially in the north and north-east), a strong social gap, especially between the upper class living in the urban centers and the masses of the rural population, corruption and dissatisfaction of the intellectual classes with the rule of the military led to it strong domestic political tensions and sparked bloody unrest in 1973; the military were overthrown and replaced by a civilian government. However, the following liberal phase lasted only three years, because it was not possible to establish internal stability. In 1976 the military intervened again.
Since the early 1960s, a guerrilla movement supported by Vietnamese and Laotian communists developed, especially in the north-east of the country. In order to counteract this development, Thailand received mainly military and economic aid from the USA. 1967–71 it took part in the Vietnam War as a member of SEATO. After the collapse of the non-communist systems of government in Cambodia and southern Vietnam (1975) and the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia (1979), a stream of refugees poured into Thailand.
With the coup of October 6, 1976, the Thai military leadership took over the government again, but held regular parliamentary elections (1979, 1983, 1986, 1988) after the proclamation of the 1978 constitution, which enshrined their position in power. The government of General Prem Tinsulanonda (1980-88) relied on a coalition of parties willing to cooperate with the military. In the 1980s, Thailand experienced a phase of relative domestic political stability despite various coup attempts (1984, 1986). Prem Tinsulanonda’s successor Chatichai Choonhavan (* 1922, † 1998) was overthrown in February 1991 by another coup; power took over a military junta, which in March 1991 under a transitional government Anand Panyarachun (* 1932) started. After the parliamentary elections of March 1992, the appointment of General Suchinda Kraprayoon (* 1933) as head of government sparked violent protests among the population, who were bloodily suppressed by the military. Another interim cabinet was set up under Anand Panyarachun (June – September 1992). The September 1992 elections resulted in a coalition government of five parties under Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai (* 1938; DP). This succeeded in pushing back the influence of the military. After early parliamentary elections (July 1995), Banharn formed Silapa-archa (* 1932, † 2016;CTP) a coalition government that failed after a year. After new elections (November 1996), the chairman of the New Aspiration Party (NAP) Chavalit Yongchaiyudh (* 1932) became prime minister; in November 1997, however, his government collapsed in the wake of the economic and financial crisis that spread from Thailand across Asia. His successor Chuan Leekpai managed to restore international confidence in the Thai economy through economic reforms.
The judicial structure of the ordinary jurisdiction includes courts of first instance, the appellate court and the Supreme Court (Dika). The administrative jurisdiction consists of administrative courts of first instance and the Supreme Administrative Court. There is also a military jurisdiction and various courts specializing in certain matters, including a labor court and a tax court. A constitutional court with nine members monitors compliance with the constitution. Objectively independent, the judges are appointed, transferred and dismissed by the king. The country’s law is strongly influenced by Indian legal tradition and was codified in the 20th century based on the European and Japanese models. In Thailand there is still the death penalty.
There is a general, nine-year compulsory schooling from the age of 6. According to topschoolsintheusa, the school system is divided into a six-year primary level and a six-year secondary level with middle and high schools or comparable institutions. At the university level there are (2018) 78 state and 69 private universities and colleges, most of them in the greater Bangkok area. There are also colleges for teacher training.