A panel appointed by Thailand’s military junta on Tuesday unveiled a draft Constitution touted as a solution to the kingdom’s decade-long political crisis, but derided by critics as undemocratic and divisive. Thailand has been controlled by the army since a 2014 coup overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, whose billionaire family has swept the last three elections but are hated by the Bangkok elite. If the charter is ratified, it will perpetuate the military’s influence. A junta-appointed Senate would check the powers of lawmakers for a five-year transitional period following elections. It also enshrines a proportional voting system, a move that would likely reduce the majority of any government once Thais regain the right to vote.
The drafters insist their new Constitution — the kingdom’s 20th in less than a century — will end the cycle of elections, street protests and coups.
But critics say it is aimed squarely at breaking the Shinawatras’ electoral stranglehold on the country. “We don’t see it as intentionally trying to dilute one party or to create a coalition government,” Consitutional Drafting Commitee spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni told reporters.
“We see it as a return to a period where you don’t have people confronting each other on the streets. That is what the majority of Thais want.”
The document is set to go to the public in a referendum on August 7.