A majority of voters in Thailand approved a new draft constitution that was written by a committee appointed by the army. An unofficial tally showed over 61 percent in favor of the document.
|When the military took power back in 2014, it rejected the old constitution. Those who support the new constitution claim it will bring stability to Thailand. However, it seems clear, as critics claim, that the aim of the constitution is to entrench military control in Thailand while providing a democratic veneer so that it will be more acceptable to some countries. The Thai Senate will consist of members who are all appointed by the military including six seats reserved for commanders. Voters also approved a second measure that says the Senate will be involved in selecting a prime minister. The target figure for turnout was 80 percent but only 55 percent participated.|
"In the lead-up to this referendum there were some very harsh laws put in place by the military government banning any public debates or criticism of the referendum or the constitution ... Indeed many people were arrested. So to a certain extent, for opposition figures, for critics of the military, there was something of a climate of fear leading up to this. So it certainly wasn’t a normal situation."To put the matter differently the situation was entirely against any democratic norms for holding a free and fair vote.
“The military has been astute to capitalise and exploit this popular will against the political class. They’ve had effective propaganda in demonising politicians as being corrupt and corruption being the root of Thailand’s problems. Before [the NCPO] had no popular mandate – they took power by force, and since then they’ve been running on empty. This time, they will claim some legitimacy and go full steam ahead. The danger now is that they will be overconfident.”They may claim some legitimacy which they could use to clamp down further on opposition. The Thai people may end up replacing corrupt politicians that they could at least vote out with corrupt military rulers who suppress any opposition and cannot be removed by votes.