Over at Pajamas Media, Bill Toddler writes about the new Thai constitution, and in giving background on the military coup that overthrew the previous nominally elected government observes:
Thaksin’s real mistake might have been drawing the ire of the King. No Thai official before him had received so many public rebukes from His Royal Highness.
It is interesting, I think, to see how a monarch or other type of unelected authority often acts to moderate the extreme actions of government leaders, elected or otherwise.
In many countries only such a figure as a hereditary ruler can evade being co-opted or killed by the government du jour. It seems that only such a ruler can provide any real form of checks and balances. A monarch often seems to bring a type of inertia to the political system, that serves the same purpose as common law, precedence and distributed government do in the West.
I think the key attribute of such rulers is that they have significant moral authority but little actual political power. They cause things to happen by suggestion rather than command.
Thailand isn’t a paradise by Western standards but looking at many of its immediate neighbors it is easy to see that it could have been much worse. A lot of the credit for that goes to the Thai royal family.