Thailand’s voters approved a new constitution last weekend. The referendum results were ordained; while the vote was not rigged, the context in which it occurred made approval a virtual certainty. The new charter locks in the role of the military as the guiding force in Thai politics, a development that suits the generals and their allies who profit from the current political and economic order.
Thailand has been run by a military junta, headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a retired army general, since it overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. Yingluck, who took office in 2011, was subsequently charged with corruption in connection with a rice purchasing program designed to lift farmers’ incomes.