Article 7 of the 1997 and 2007 constitutions has been controversial. This has been because it has been a rallying cry for every anti-democratic movement since the People’s Alliance for Democracy.
Article 7 of the 1997 charter was used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it in his well-known Journal of Contemporary Asia article, the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin, supported by both PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006. They made another call for its use in 2012 and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee tried again in 2013-14.
As Connors explains it, Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed. He argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all … new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).
While the 2005 plea was rejected by the palace, it led to the king’s call on the judiciary to intervene following the abortive 2006 election, which eventually led to the 2006 military coup and the political struggles that have continued to this day as the royalists prefer the intervention of unelected and unrepresentative powers against elected and popular political regimes. Article 7 pits the elite against the people.
Today The Nation reports that the current Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) says that it has “removed the highly controversial Article 7 from the draft charter yesterday as the commission entered its final week of work.” According to the report, the CDC “expressed the opinion that it was inappropriate that the revered [sic.] Royal institution would make such a decision, so power was transferred to the Constitutional Court to make the final judgement in cases of deadlock.”
In effect, the power that has resided with the conservative monarchy is now to be transferred to an unelected body that it arguably the most conservative, royalist and politicized of all such institutions. It does this to insulate the royalist elite from both elected governments and from a doddery king and from any future king who may not be as predictable and trustworthy as the elite would want.