Thailand History – From the First Thai Kingdom to 21st Century

By | December 17, 2021

FROM THE FIRST THAI KINGDOM TO THE 19TH CENTURY

The predominant population in Thailand descends from the Thais, who in the 6th century. they had founded a kingdom named Ta-li in the present Chinese province of Yunnan. This kingdom disappeared in 1253 following the Mongol invasion of China. The Thais then left Yunnan: the Thai-Yai (“Great Thais”) settled in upper Burma and the Thai-Noi (“Little Thais”) settled in Thailand and Laos. In the same 13th century. a Thai kingdom was established in Northern Siam, with Sukhothai as its capital. In the 14th century. the Khmer kingdom was subjected and the new Thai state originated from the merger of the two peoples. In 1350 the new capital Ayutthaya (or Ayuthia) was founded.

In the 16th century. the Portuguese arrived (1511), followed by the Spaniards, the Dutch, the English, and soon the Dutch East India Company enjoyed the monopoly of Siam’s foreign trade. In 1767 the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya. After the brief reign of General Phra Chao Tak, who had managed to drive out the Burmese, a new dynasty was formed by General Phya Chakri, who took the name of Rama I in the new capital Bangkok (1781-1809). For Thailand 2018, please check ethnicityology.com.

In the 19th century. King Mongkut (1851-68) opened the country to trade and Western influence. Her policy was also followed by her son Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), under whom Thailand had to cede her rights over large regions of Laos and Cambodia to France and Malaysia to Great Britain. The state was centralized, the administration reformed, slavery abolished, while the country was equipped with infrastructures capable of acting as a driving force for economic development.

THE 20TH CENTURY

The successor, Vajiravudh (1910-25), continued the strengthening of the state, fighting from 1917 alongside the Allies in the First World War. Following the international economic crisis and the widespread discontent with the government of King Prajadhipok (1925-35), in 1932 a military coup forced the sovereign to accept a constitutional regime, which from 1933 however regained a decidedly authoritarian character, strengthened with assuming the post of prime minister of General L. Pibul Songgram (1939), while the king abdicated in 1935. Thailand pursued a pro-Japanese foreign policy, advancing during World War II claims on the territories ceded to France and Great Britain. With the decline of Japan and the fall of Pibul (1944), US influence grew.

After the war, the country experienced a brief phase of democratic life, but in 1947 a military coup brought Pibul Songgram back to power. From 1955 there was a limited liberalization of political life, but in 1957 a new intervention by the army brought General S. Thanarat to power, whose death (1963) was replaced by General Thailand Kittikachorn. Closely allied to the USA, Thailand, after having participated in the Korean War (1950-53) and in the founding of SEATO (1954), during the 1960s she was progressively involved in the Indochinese crisis. After an ephemeral experience of parliamentary government, in 1971 Kittikachorn reassumed dictatorial powers. A strong anti-government protest movement developed however, and in 1973 the regime also lost the support of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (on the 1950 throne). Kittikachorn exiled, a civil interim government was formed and a coalition government was formed by the leader of the Democratic Party (PD), Kukrit Pramoj. Early elections in 1976 led to the formation of a right-wing coalition government, led by Seni Pramoj, which in 1976 was overthrown by a military coup. The new government, led by Thanin Kraivixien, gave birth to a harsh repressive regime; in 1977 General Kriangsak Chomanan took over, which promoted the restoration of some limited forms of democratic life. Between 1980 and 1988, General Prem Tinsulanond led several coalition governments among the main right-wing parties. On the international level, a progressive improvement at the regional level (favored by the process of detente between the USSR, China and the USA) was pursued in the second half of the 1980s by the government led by Chatichai Choonhavan since 1988, which was however overthrown in 1991 by a new coup d’état. military. Power was assumed by a National Peacemaking Council (CNP), dominated by General Suchinda Kraprayoon. On the international level, a progressive improvement at the regional level (favored by the process of detente between the USSR, China and the USA) was pursued in the second half of the 1980s by the government led by Chatichai Choonhavan since 1988, which was however overthrown in 1991 by a new coup d’état. military. Power was assumed by a National Peacemaking Council (CNP), dominated by General Suchinda Kraprayoon. On the international level, a progressive improvement at the regional level (favored by the process of detente between the USSR, China and the USA) was pursued in the second half of the 1980s by the government led by Chatichai Choonhavan since 1988, which was however overthrown in 1991 by a new coup d’état. military. Power was assumed by a National Peacemaking Council (CNP), dominated by General Suchinda Kraprayoon.

After the legislative elections (1992), the CNP was dissolved and Suchinda assumed the leadership of the government, but the appointment as prime minister of a personality outside the parliament provoked strong and widespread protests, leading Suchinda to resign. With the subsequent elections Chuan Leekpai, he became prime minister of a centrist coalition government, at whose crisis (1995) a center-right coalition government was formed. The new consultations of 1996 registered the Party’s affirmation of the new, conservative aspiration, and General Chaovalit Yongchaiyut was appointed prime minister. Hit by a very heavy financial crisis, the government went into crisis in the autumn of 1997. A new majority was formed, pivoting on the Democratic Party, and Chuan Leekpai again assumed the post of prime minister.

THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY

In 1998 Thaksin Shinawatra, a former police officer who became a billionaire as a television magnate, founded a new party, the Thai Rak Thai (“Thais love Thais”), with a strong populist imprint and destined to profoundly transform Thai politics. In the January 2001 elections, the TRT won a resounding victory and Thaksin was appointed prime minister. In February 2005, the TRT again won an absolute majority in Parliament, but the increasingly heavy allegations of conflict of interest and corruption directed at Thaksin caused the decline of his political fortune in 2006, when the armed forces supported by King Bhumibol Adulyadej they took control of power. The elections held in 2007 were won by a new formation called the People’s Power Party, considered a re-edition of the former premier’s dissolved party, which returned from exile in early 2008. Popular pressure forced the new Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign. and his successor, Somchai Wongsawat, considered too attached to Shinawatra. But the head of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva, designated to lead the government, had to face in 2009 and 2010, despite the support of the king, the massive protests of the supporters of Shinawatra, which threatened to paralyze life. political and economic of the country.Remained in office despite the vote of no confidence presented by the opposition in June 2010 due to the violent repression carried out against dissident forces, in the political elections held in July 2011 Vejjajiva reported a heavy defeat in comparison with Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin whose political party Puea Thai (new name taken by the Party of People’s Power) received 265 of the 500 seats in Parliament, against the 159 awarded by the Democratic Party of the outgoing premier.

Violent protests against Y. Shinawatra erupted in November 2013 following the government’s proposal to enact a law that would have granted amnesty to numerous individuals accused of political crimes, especially allowing the prime minister’s brother, convicted in 2008 of corruption, to return at home from exile. The opposition has called for Shinawatra’s resignation and announced the boycott of the legislative elections scheduled for February 2014; the consultations, which took place in a climate of strong social tensions, were invalidated due to the blockade of numerous seats put in place by the demonstrators. In May of the same year the Thai Constitutional Court dismissed Prime Minister Shinawatra, finding her guilty of abuse of power; a few days later the military took control of the country through a coup d’état, suspending the constitution and dissolving the provisional government chaired by N. Boonsongpaisan. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup, declared himself premier in Junead interim, being formally appointed prime minister in the following August by a provisional parliament in which the presence of the military is strongly dominant. In July 2016, through a popular referendum, a new Constitution was approved with 62% of votes, containing undemocratic measures aimed at consolidating the power of the army, including the establishment of a Senate entirely appointed by the military. As a result of these constitutional reforms, the political consultations, innumerable times postponed and finally held in March 2019, while assigning the victory to the opposition party Pheu Thai close to the former premier Thailand Shinawatra, which obtained 136 seats against the 115 that went to Palang Pracharath party which supported Prayuth Chan-ocha’s candidacy, followed by the opposition parties Future Forward (80),

In October 2016, after the death of the ruler Bhumibol Adulyadej, on the throne since 1950, the second son and designated heir Maha Vajiralongkorn postponed his accession to the throne to be able to observe a period of mourning, assuming the regency of the country on an interim basis, General Prem Tinsulanonda until the following December, when Vajiralongkorn officially assumed the royal office with the title of Rama X.

Thailand History - From the First Thai Kingdom to 21st Century