In the wake of the 22 May 2014 military coup, Thailand began drafting its twentieth constitution since 1932. But the drafting process was dogged from the start by fundamental differences between the military junta and legal experts working on the new constitution. The military wanted to invoke “the people”, yet at the same time suppress their actual political participation. The constitution drafters wanted to create “active citizens” who were loyal to conservative, royalist notions about Thailand’s state and society, hoping they would be mobilized to police those notions, and so undermine those forces supporting a more open democratic politics. In the end, attempts to craft a charter shaped by legalistic ideas of moral citizenship and virtuous bureaucratic rule foundered in September 2015 when the draft constitution was voted down by the National Reform Council, a body whose members had been appointed by the junta itself. This article examines what was at stake in the struggles over the meanings of Thailand’s 2015 draft constitution, arguing that the junta deliberately sabotaged a constitution which embodied a view of the populace that was radically at variance with military preferences.


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pp. 329-354
Launched on MUSE
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