Alternative Meanings of Political Reform in Contemporary Thailand

Duncan McCargo


This article argues that constitutionalism is a 'disease' that afflicts
Thailand's body politic, reflecting intense contestation
among rival elite power-holders. The recent debates concerning
political reform in Thailand (which culminated in the promulgation
of the 1997 constitution) illustrate this contestation
vividly. The vague, positive-sounding term 'political reform'
actually means many different things to different people: it is a
highly contested concept which has been used to legitimate a
variety of political agendas, ranging from progressive ideas, to
deeply conservative and even anti-democratic sentiments. The
resulting constitution is an excessively long and deeply unsatisfactory
document. Nevertheless, it may contain certain details
that offer opportunities for the future opening-up of greater
political space.

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Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
ISSN (print): 1395-4199, ISSN (online): 2246-2163

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