The civil society in Thailand have played an active role in elections and political movement in the past. During 1992-1997, there was a demand for a new constitution and people’s participation in the drafting process. Many CSOs took part in voter education, woman empowerment, some CSO member became a part of Election Commission of Thailand during the first term, while many participated in election monitoring activities during election times, not only the election process, but also includes government policies and implementation plans, corruption, and etc.
During the last 10 years of political factions, CSOs were also effected as they show alliance to some of the political camps. According to ANFREL’s observation in 2011 elections, the main elction observation group known as PNET did not operate a large-scale observation as in previous elections. They only supported the election management as volunteers and organized discussion/ debate panel at a local university. In this election, there were only a few local province-based civil society groups that used Election Commission of Thailand funds to get engaged in domestic election observation.
Since the recent coup d’etat in 2014 , many CSOs have showed disagreement to the military interventions and tried to bring up the democratic principles among the public. However, due to the lack of freedom of expression, heavy censorship and restrictions by the government, CSOs have encountered many difficulties and challenges to call for a democratic elections. Despite all the restrictions, nationwide CSOs put an effort to form coalitions at the national and regional level to release statements and called for a free and fair referendum in August 2016.
Ryan D. Whelan and Michael Lidauer, Thailand General Election 3rd July 2011: Report of the International Election Observation Mission, ANFREL, 2011, http://anfrel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/ThaiEOMReport_Edit_4-final_edit.pdf.