SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Prayut’s Rejection of Parliamentary Sovereignty Undermines Thai System of Checks and Balances

Titipol Phakdeewanich
Dr Titipol Phakdeewanich (Ubon Ratchathani University)

Date: 12 November 2019Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 12 November 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: RG01

Type of Event: Seminar


General Prayut Chan-o-cha led the National Council for Peace and Order, or NCPO, which staged the 2014 coup d'état in order to seize power from the then elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on the 22nd of May 2014. Under the circumstances, he began his first term as the 29th Prime Minister.

After Thailand’s general election in March 2019, General Prayut has been able to secure his grip on power as Thai prime minster for a second term, largely through the vote secured of the pro-military Palang Pracharat Party.

General Prayut
Photo credit: Post Today

Throughout his first term in office, General Prayut exercised control over the country through various legal mechanisms, including the use of Article 44 in the 2014 interim constitution - granting almost absolute power and authority to the Prime Minister. This enabled Prayut to impose an autocratic leadership style to dictate the country, whilst avoiding to conform to fundamental democratic norms.

Despite the NCPO’s claim to return “democracy”, General Prayut has been reluctant to accept the notion of parliamentary sovereignty. Parliamentary sovereignty, the notion that supreme power is vested in the House of Parliament; which receives consent from the people to represent their interests and to scrutinise the government in order to hold government accountable. Instead, General Prayut has regarded the House as supporting institution for the function of the executive.

People's Hands
Photo credit: Titipol Phakdeewanich

Thailand’s parliamentary system is fundamentally influenced by the British parliamentary system. Therefore, this paper will explore the evolution of democracy and the notion of parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom in order to explain the Thai case. Thus, this paper investigates to what extent Thai democratic progress and Thailand’s check and balance are undermined by General Prayut’s rejection of the notion of parliamentary sovereignty.

Speaker Biography

Dr Titipol Phakdeewanich is a political scientist, at the Faculty of Political Science at Ubon Ratchathani University. It has been a key component of the work of Titipol, to highlight the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights, the plight and injustice in the lives of the rural poor, and to look towards finding actual solutions to these problems, which can have a tangible positive effect on the lives of under-represented and disenfranchised groups such as these, as well as other marginalised groups within Thailand.

Titipol was closely monitored by the National Council for Peace and Order or NCPO, because of his work on democracy and human rights, between the 22nd of May 2014 until 10th of July 2019 - when Thailand was under military jurisdiction as a result of the 2014 military coup d’état led by the NCPO. Nevertheless, he remains committed to work to support the promotion of democracy and human rights within Thailand.


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Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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