Thailand was an early proponent of democracy in Asia and held its first parliamentary elections in 1933 — a year after the monarchy was overthrown. But don’t be deceived. The so-called “Land of Smiles” has been forged through coups and military rule rather than the ballot box. Thailand’s powerful military, along with elements within and around the royal family, remain instrumental powerbrokers.
According to statistics compiled by Human Rights Watch, since the end of absolute monarchist rule in the 1930s: “there have been 18 coups, 23 military governments, and nine military-dominated governments” in Thailand.
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