Duncan McCargo drew attention to the network monarchy. In my understanding, the network(s) of organisations tend to be more relevant for the analysis of political processes, not the least as organisations and formalized ties between them tend to be more sustainable.

A base for any democratic system with a constitutional state based on the rule of law is the separation of powers between the legislature (parliament, government), executive (state administration) and judiciary (courts). This separation of powers implies that each is watching and controlling the other. The main critique of the Thaksin governments was that by using his large majority in parliament as well as the senate, he appointed his supporters into those organisations that were to control his government. One aim of the constitution of 2007 was to make this impossible by reducing the control of the legislature over the constitutional court and further commissions namely the Election Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission etc.

The question is whether these changes lead to a balance of power between the three parts that form the state, or rather shifted it away from the legislature. A further question then is, in how far does this not only reduce legislative power of the government, but enhances legislative power of organisations that do not represent the sovereign. To gain a better understanding of this, I made a network analysis of those organisations that control the government and elected politics based on what organisations or commission are selecting the members of other commissions. The results are quite interesting.

The following organisations/commissions were selected:

  • Constitutional court (CoCo): The members are selected by the supreme court of justice (SCJ), the supreme administrative court (SAC), president of parliament, head of the opposition, ombudsman, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), auditor general.
  • Senate: 76 senators are elected to represent the provinces, while 74 are selected by the Constitutional Court, Election Commission, Auditor General, SCJ, and SAC.
  • Election Commission (EC): Members are selected by the senate
  • Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC): Members are selected by SCI, SAC, President of Parliament, Head of the Opposition
  • Ombudsman (Obm): The Ombudsman is selected by the Senate
  • Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ): Members are selected by the judicial commission
  • Supreme Administrative Court (SAC): Members are selected by the judicial commission of the administrative courts
  • Auditor General (Audit): Selected by parliament
  • Judicial Commission (JC): Selected by representatives of the courts and the Senate

In the network analysis I defined the president of parliament as well as the head of the opposition as “parliament”. Using the selection processes as indicator for links, any political orientation of members could be completely ignored, as they do not play a role within this network based on formalized ties. As in most cases the appointment (in difference to the selection) is made by the King as Head of State, the most important and central position is of course with the King.

The diagram is as follows:

network thai

(Click on the image for a larger version. The shapes of the nodes indicate factions and their size indicates the degree of centrality within the network). The direction of the ties is indicated by the arrows.

The most central and closely interlinked nodes of the network are the Constitutional Court, Senate and Anti-Corruption Commission. Their closeness and centrality is due to the reciprocal selection of the members of the commissions. Interesting is the marginal position of parliament, especially when compared to the Senate. Another interesting result is the high importance of organisations and commissions of the judiciary (SAC and SJC) besides the Constitutional Court, which together with the Senate form the dominant faction of the network. Here we can even speak of an emerging self-referencing system in the sense that those who are supposed to control the execution and application of laws (besides the Constitutional Court the SJC and SAC as well as the JC) tend to become those who formulate them.

Concerning the questions asked above, the relative marginalization of parliament, and the rising self-referencing based on reciprocal recruitment among the commissions, indicates a relative weakness of the legislature. Thus, one has to ask how those organisations and commissions controlling elected politicians, are themselves controlled and by whom? Furthermore the degree of separation of powers is reduced. The question is, whether the dominance over the legislature allows these organisations to engage in legislation themselves. This would imply that political agendas do not have to be pursued through competitive elections, but by “networking”.

Ruediger Korff works on Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Passau, Germany