The preamble of Thailand’s 2007 constitution—a document drafted and promulgated under military rule—boasted that “the government of Thailand under the system of Democracy with the King as Head of State has developed over more than seventy-five years.” Official and semiofficial publications often put it rather less obliquely, informing readers that Thailand has been a “democracy” (prachathippatai) throughout the entire period. Indeed, the country’s first experiment with a semblance of democracy commenced on 24 June 1932, a date that marks its formal transition from absolute to “constitutional” monarchy. But if almost every political regime established since then has been described by its boosters as a form of “democracy” superior to those that preceded it, few have lived up to the label. Thailand has spent much of the intervening time under military dictatorship or, more commonly, under pseudo-democratic regimes dominated by unelected institutions. Whatever their billing, moreover, the succession of 13 coups and 18 constitutions that the country has experienced since 1932 has not consistently served, to put it charitably, the cause of democratic development. As evidenced in Figure 22.1, which plots the scores that Freedom House assigned to Thailand on measures of political rights and civil liberties between 1972 and 2013, the so-called “development” of Thailand’s democracy has been a tangled, circular affair. The country has only met the minimal requirements for what Freedom House refers to as an “electoral democracy” in roughly half of the last 40 years (1975–6, 1988–91, 1992–2006, 2011–14). It has even more rarely approximated the definition of a “real” liberal democracy: a system of government where the majority rules, through elected representatives, without trampling on the rights of minorities.