Seminar: Thailand’s Constitutional Referendum Results: Political Meanings and Implications
About the Seminar
On 7 August 2016 Thais will vote on the draft of their country’s 20th constitution. In the run-up to the referendum, the junta imposed suppressive measures to silence dissidents. Public debates and seminars on the referendum were banned while campaigning against the draft charter was strictly prohibited. Campaigners were arrested and detained. The constitution was drafted by a junta-appointed committee and aims to entrench the power of the military and unelected elites at the expense of political parties and the electoral majority. While major political parties, academics and civic groups disapproved of the draft, many ordinary Thais harbour a deep distrust of elected politicians and therefore supported the ruling junta and its constitutional design. The referendum result does not only decide the fate of the new constitution but is also a critical test of the junta’s legitimacy and popularity after two years in power. This presentation will offer detailed analysis of the referendum outcome and explain its political impact as well as the po litical direction of post referendum Thailand.
About the Speaker
Prajak Kongkirati is currently a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Thailand. He is also a former Head of Southeast Asian Studies Centre, East Asian Institute, Thammasat University. He has published widely in the field of Thai politics, conflict and violence, party and electoral politics, and democratisation.