Skip to main content

The Prayuth Regime: Embedded Military and Hierarchical Capitalism in Thailand

  • Prajak Kongkirati (a1) and Veerayooth Kanchoochat (a2)

This paper explores the Prayuth regime, which began with a military coup in May 2014. Politically, we indicate how the junta has embedded its power in ways different from the past. It does not pursue a power-sharing governance as in the Prem and Surayud governments, but tries to militarise the cabinet, parliament, and even state-owned enterprises. The new constitution is designed to institutionalise the power of the military and the traditional elite vis-à-vis the electoral forces. Ironically, however, the junta's rule by military decree and discretionary power have weakened the bureaucratic polity, rather than strengthening it. Economically, the Prayuth regime forms a partnership with a group of Sino-Thai conglomerates to establish the Pracharath scheme, with an aim to differentiate its grass-roots development policy from Thaksin's populism (Prachaniyom). Nonetheless, it has become a platform through which the giant firms perform the leading role of ‘Big Brother’ in supervising small businesses in their sectors. Pracharath therefore reflects the collective endeavours of the conglomerates to replace competitive markets with hierarchy, rather than encouraging local firms to catch-up with them.

Hide All
Acemoglu, Daron, and James, Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. London: Profile.
Asian Tribune. 2006. “Thai King endorses Gen. Surayud Chulanont, a former army chief for interim premiership,” October 2. Available at: (accessed on 5 June 2017).
BBC Thai. 2017. “Three years of the coup: Military officers controlling the state enterprise over the reform promise, June 5. Available at (accessed 3 June 2017).
Boix, Carles, and Milan, Svolik. 2013. “The foundations of limited authoritarian government: institutions and power-sharing in dictatorships.” The Journal of Politics 75(2): 300316.
Brooker, Paul. 2009. Non-Democratic Regimes. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Connors, Michael. 2003. Democracy and National Identity in Thailand. London: Routledge.
Doner, Richard, and Anek, Laothamatas. 1997. “Competitive clientelism and economic governance: The case of Thailand.” In Business and the State in Developing Countries, edited by Maxfield, S. and Schneider, B., 411452. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Gandhi, Jennifer, and Adam, Przeworski. 2006. “Cooperation, cooptation and rebellion under dictatorships.” Economics and Politics 18(1): 126.
Haberkorn, Tyrell. 2014. “Martial law and the criminalisation of thought in Thailand.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 12(40): 117.
Hall, Peter A., and David, Soskice, eds. 2001. Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Harris, Joseph. 2015. “Who governs? Autonomous political networks as a challenge to power in Thailand.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 45(1): 325.
Hicken, Allen, and Bangkok, Pundit. 2016. “The effects of Thailand's proposed electoral system.” Thai Data Points, 9 February. Available at: (accessed 1 June 2017).
iLaw. 2015. Report on the Exercise of Power under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution of Thailand, 18 November. (accessed 5 April 2018).
Isara News. 2016. “258 government officials and local administrators were suspended and removed by NCPO head,” 31 July. Available at: (accessed 29 May 2017).
Jayasuriya, Kanishka, and Garry, Rodan. 2007. “Beyond hybrid regimes: More participation, less contestation in Southeast Asia.” Journal of Democratisation 14(5): 773794.
Kendall-Taylor, Andrea, and Erica, Frantz. 2015. “Mimicking democracy to prolong autocracies.” The Washington Quarterly 37(4): 7184.
Kom Chad Luek. 2015. “Stop dragging your foot immediately,” January 19.
Linz, Juan. 1970. “An authoritarian regime: Spain.” In Mass Politics, edited by Allardt, Eric and Rokkan, Stein, 251283. New York: Free Press.
Manager Online. 2014. “Threatening to remove civil servants to prevent foot dragging,” December 20.
Macan-Markar, Marwaan. 2017. “Thailand's junta could benefit from former PM's escape.” Nikkei Asian Review, 28 August. Available at: (accessed 18 September 2017).
Marshall, Monty G., and Marshall, Donna Ramsey. 2015. Coup d'Etat Events, 1946-2014: Codebook. Available at: (accessed 6 April 2018).
McCargo, Duncan. 2005. “Network monarchy and legitimacy crises in Thailand.” The Pacific Review 18(4): 499519.
Mérieau, Eugénie. 2016. “Thailand's deep state, royal power and the constitutional court (1997-2015).” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46(3): 445466.
Nanchanok, Wongsamuth. 2015. “Military mind games play out under strict insecurity.” Bangkok Post, September 7. Available at: (accessed 5 October 2017).
Nordlinger, Eric A. 1977. Soldiers in Politics: Military Coups and Governments. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
O'Donnell, Guillermo. 1979. Modernisation and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Powell, Jonathan, and Thyne, Clayton. Coups d'etat, 1950 to Present. Available at: (accessed 2 June 2017).
Prajak, Kongkirati. 2012. “Thailand: The cultural politics of student resistance.” In Student Activism in Asia: Between Protest and Powerlessness, edited by Weiss, Meredith and Aspinall, Edward, 229258. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Kongkirati, Prajak. 2016. “Thailand's political future remains uncertain.” ISEAS Perspective 24. Available at: (accessed 5 January 2017).
Puangthong, Pawakapan. 2015. “Will Thailand's new constitution be a return to authoritarianism?ISEAS Perspective 3. Singapore: ISEAS.
Pawakapan, Puangthong. 2017. “The central role of Thailand's internal security operations command in the post-counter-insurgency period.” ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia 0219-3213. Available at: (accessed 20 April 2018).
Riggs, Fred W. 1966. Thailand: The Modernization of a Bureaucratic Polity. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center Press.
Sasiwan, Mokkhasen. 2016. “Fourth cabinet reshuffle introduces five newcomers.” Khaosod English, 17 December. Available at: (accessed on 30 May 2017).
Schneider, Ben Ross. 2013. Hierarchical Capitalism in Latin America: Business, Labor, and the Challenges of Equitable Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Thai PBS News. 2016. “Apiradee to officially demand 20,000 million baht compensation from six former officials,” 19 September. Available at: (accessed 1 June 2017).
Chaloemtiarana, Thak. 1979. Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism. Bangkok: Social Science Association of Thailand.
Thanee, Chaiwat, and Pasuk, Phongpaichit. 2008. “Rents and rent-seeking in the Thaksin era.” In Thai Capital After the 1997 Crisis, edited by Phongpaichit, Pasuk and Baker, C.. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.
Pongsudhirak, Thitinan. 2016. “Can we have ‘Premocracy 2.0’ in the 2010s?” Bangkok Post, 1 April. Available at (accessed 2 June 2017).
Pitidol, Thorn. 2016. “Redefining democratic discourse in Thailand's civil society.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46(3): 520537.
Kanchoochat, Veerayooth. 2016. “Reign-seeking and the rise of the unelected in Thailand.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46(3): 486503.
Kanchoochat, Veerayooth, and Hewison, K., eds. 2017. Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand's Authoritarian Turn. New York: Routledge.
Workpoint News. 2017. “Three years of NCPO and 152 orders of section 44,” 22 May. Available at: (accessed 30 May 2017).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia
  • ISSN: 2051-364X
  • EISSN: 2051-3658
  • URL: /core/journals/trans-trans-regional-and-national-studies-of-southeast-asia
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score