22 August 2014

Prime Minister Prayut

Democracy Monument

Prayut Chan-o-cha, the leader of this year’s coup, was appointed Prime Minister yesterday. The National Legislative Assembly voted 191-0 in favour of Prayut’s appointment. There were no alternative candidates, no dissenting votes, and Prayut was not present to accept the nomination.

The result was hardly surprising, as most NLA members are military officers and all were chosen by Prayut’s junta. Earlier this week, the Assembly approved the junta’s budget proposal by a vote of 183-0, again without any dissenting votes. It’s clear that the NLA is merely a rubber-stamp legislature, with no inclination or ability to challenge Prayut. As army chief, head of the junta, and Prime Minister, Prayut now wields almost absolute power.

Since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thai politics has been dominated by frequent periods of military rule, punctuated by occasional democratic administrations. There have been numerous coups and massacres, though no military leaders have ever faced prosecution. (Indeed, the leader of the 2006 coup subsequently became an elected MP, and the interim constitution grants an amnesty to the coup-makers.)