Student activism in Thailand had grown during the 1960s as the number of students in university increased rapidly. In 1971, the Thanom Kittikachorn government launched a coup and restored authoritarian rule by disbanding the national legislature, terminating the 1968 constitution, and proclaiming martial law. On 15 December 1972, a new constitution was established that gave Prime Minister Thanom and his National Executive Council extensive power, but promised to return the country to democracy as soon as the communist threat was eliminated.
In 2001, Thaksin
Shinawatra was elected the Prime Minister of Thailand and was the first one to
serve a full term in that role. In March 2005, Thaksin was reelected in a
landslide victory, with more than 60% of the popular vote. As the leader of the
Thai Rak Thai (TRT, Thais love Thais) party, Thaksin’s neo-liberalist, populist
policies made him very popular with the majority of Thais, especially the rural
poor. However, his autocratic style, numerous human rights violations and favor
towards privatization created opposition from urban elites, NGOs, and royalist
On February 23, 1991, a military group by the name of the NPKC, or National Peace Keeping Council, which was composed of Military academy graduates, sought to overthrow the current government in Thailand, which they believed to be a “parliamentary dictatorship”. NPKC quickly gained control over the government and formed the political party known as Samakki Tham.