Constitutional Afterlife: The Continuing Impact of Thailand's Postpolitical Constitution

23 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2008 Last revised: 27 Mar 2015

See all articles by Tom Ginsburg

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: November 25, 2008


Thailand's constitution of 1997 introduced profound changes into the country's governance, creating a "postpolitical" democratic structure in which an intricate array of guardian institutions served to limit the role of elected politicians. Ultimately, the constitutional structure was undermined in a military coup against populist billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who had taken over many of the institutions designed to constrain political power. Nonetheless, the 1997 constitution appears to be having a significant afterlife, in that its institutional innovations have survived the enactment of a new Constitution and continue to constrain the political process. This article describes the Thai situation and speculates on the conditions for constitutional afterlife. Thailand's continuing political crisis, alas, suggests that the particular institutional innovations of 1997 have not been sufficient to channel political contestation.

Keywords: Thailand, constitutional court

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom, Constitutional Afterlife: The Continuing Impact of Thailand's Postpolitical Constitution (November 25, 2008). International Journal of Constitutional Law, January 2009, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 252, Center on Law and Globalization Research Paper No. 09-04, Available at SSRN:

Tom Ginsburg (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

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