Thailand had remained a constitutional monarch until the coup d’état of September 19, 2006. A constitutional monarchy is a type of monarchial government that is created under a constitutional system that has acknowledged an elected or a hereditary head of state. A coup is a sign of disrespect to the King who in his own right was very respected and it is a crime to insult anyone in the Royal Family. The King of Thai had been on the throne for 60 years and there had been a celebration and millions of people had taken part in the glorious day. They dressed in yellow shirts, yellow being the official color of Royalty. The government is now a military junta and is headed by Sonthi Boonyaratglin. A military junta is military board not just one person. On October 1, 2006 the junta appointed Surayud Chulanontas the new Prime Minister.
On September 19, 2006, the Royal Thai Army which was led by Army Commander General Sonthi Boonyaratglin took control over the important government buildings and the TV stations in Bangkok when the Prime Minister at the time Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York for a meeting for the United Nations General Assembly. The Armed forces and the police force had soon declared the existence of the Council for Democratic Reform for the Constitutional Monarchy. They had announced that they had officially taken over Bagkok. The military had declared martial law and had vacated the Thai Constitution and even went as far to suspend Parliament. The public was not really affected by the coup because it was a change in the constitution not an actual physical change where it would disrupt many lives.
The King in Thailand has very little direct power under the constitution but he is a sign of a national figure head just as the Queen is in England. The king is also the chosen protector of Buddhism in the Kingdom of Thailand. In today’s monarchy the king gets a great mount of respect and he is looked upon as a moral authority. He has even been called upon to help with political situations. It is considered in Thailand a crime to mock or criticize the King and if caught the charge is lese majesty.
The head of the government is the Prime Minister and they are appointed by the King. The King gets to choose from members of the lower house in the Parliament. The leader of the party can organize a majority coalition government. The Prime Minister usually appoints the Cabinet. In Thailand, the Parliament is called the National Assembly and it is bicameral. They contain the House of Representatives of 500 seats and a Senate of about 200 seats. The members of both houses are elected by the popular vote just as we vote for a President here. The House of Representatives members are chosen by the first past the post system, when the candidate with the majority will be elected.
The Senate is elected based on the province system, this is when one province can bring back more than one Senator depending on the population size. The members of House of Representatives can serve four year terms. The Senate serves six year terms. The courts in Thailand has three layers, the highest court is the Supreme Court. Thailand is an active member of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations.