Siamese Revolution 1932


July 6, 2022

The Siamese Revolution of 1932 replaced the absolute monarchy in power in Siam, i.e. present-day Thailand, with a constitutional monarchy. Support for the absolute monarchy had been eaten up by the country's economic problems due to the global depression. Khana ratasdon, or the People's Party, launched a coup on June 24, 1932, but it was followed by political chaos with counter-coups, which ultimately ended with the victory of those who supported the constitutional monarchy.


Siam's absolute monarchy had been criticized in the country's press for some time, before the level of criticism peaked when Siam was hit by the global depression that began in 1929. Absolute monarchy had been criticized in the past, but now proposals for replacement models for the system also began to appear in the press. The country's administration was unable to balance its budget by firing state workers, cutting education funding and raising taxes. Economic reforms could not be implemented effectively and, for example, in 1927 the teaching of economics was made illegal. According to the press, the inability to implement economic reforms manifested itself, for example, in the way that the country's administration refused to remove the gold standard, which, according to the press, led to, for example, inflation of the baht. This policy was seen as an example of the rule of foreign powers in Siam. Opinions against the administration eventually spread to the civil service as well, to which the administration tried to respond with an anti-Bolshevik law, which was soon amended so that it could be used more widely against critics of the administration. Newspapers were closed and death sentences were given for more serious offences. In addition, immigration laws were used to deport critics abroad. The seven-person core group of the future coup d'état gathered for five days in Paris, France on February 5, 1927. They called themselves Khana ratasdon, or loosely translated "People's Party". Law student Pridi Banomyong acted as the brains of the group, who was later influential when the revolutionaries drew up the country's constitution. At its meeting in Paris, the group adopted two main goals: to transform the absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy, and to achieve economic and social reforms through a six-point program that included, for example, public safety, economic planning, equality, and a free-for-all education system. The seven original revolutionaries began to gather supporters among other Siamese who had studied in Europe, and more importantly among the country's officer corps.


In June 1932, the People's Party had about a hundred members, and about half of them were from the army. The coup project started on the morning of June 24, 1932, when the coup plotters captured the commander of the royal guard and about 40 members of the royal family and declared the overthrow of the absolute monarchy. That night, the king gathered with his military leaders, some of whom wanted to order the country's army to besiege the capital. However, the king himself wanted to avoid bloodshed and agreed to negotiate with the revolutionaries. The revolutionaries agreed to the king's proposal that the constitution they drew up would only be temporary and that the king would be involved in making the actual constitution that would be drawn up later. The country's new government also included a considerable number of officials from the old administration. Phraya Manopako (Mano) Nithithada, whose wife had belonged to the queen's court, was chosen to lead the government. The coup itself was almost bloodless, and no one died in the one shooting incident that broke out during the coup. The takeover was supported immediately afterwards by both the economic influencers and the workers, and there was little opposition. Followed by the country