Thailand’s Voters Approved a Military Junta-backed Constitution
Thai voters approved a military junta-backed constitution in a referendum Sunday, the outcome that paves the way for an election next year but will require future elected governments to rule on the military’s terms.
Voters handed the junta led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha a convincing win in its 1st major popularity test at the ballot box since it seized power in a Y 2014 coup.
With 94% of the vote counted, early results from the Election Commission showed 61.4% of Thais had voted for the charter, 37.9% rejected it.
Full results are due Wednesday.
The junta says the constitution is designed to heal more than a decade of divisive politics in Thailand that has dented economic growth and left scores dead in civil unrest.
The win was a blow to the Shinawatra Clan and their allies, whose populist politics are reviled by Thailand’s military-royalist establishment. Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted as prime minister in a coup in Y 2006 and his sister Yingluck’s government was toppled by Prayuth in Y 2014.
Turnout of around 55% was below the 80% targeted by the Election Commission. That likely favored the government.
Around 200,000 police were deployed for the referendum and voting passed without major incident.
The Yes vote will likely be cheered by Thai financial markets.
Foreign investors had been waiting for the vote and may invest more now..
Senior army officers say that the new charter aims to make future coups unnecessary by weakening political parties and ensuring the military a role in overseeing Thailand’s economic and political development.
Under the constitution, which would be Thailand’s 20th since the military abolished an absolute monarchy in Y 1932, a junta-appointed Senate with seats reserved for military commanders would check the powers of elected lawmakers.
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