Judiciary and local government in Thailand
Executive power

Thai citizens are guaranteed due process and equal justice under the law. At the top of the court system is the San Dika (Supreme Court), located in Bangkok. It serves as a court of final appeal in all civil, criminal, and bankruptcy cases. Below the San Dika is the San Uthon (Court of Appeal), which has appellate jurisdiction in all cases. Courts of first instance include magistrates’ courts, provincial courts, and courts with exclusive jurisdiction in Bangkok and its immediate environs. The 1997 constitution recognized, and increased the independence of, the judiciary. As part of the country’s reforms to enhance the rights and freedoms of the Thai people, a royal decree created the 15-member Constitutional Court in 1998. This court makes final and binding decisions in cases involving constitutional issues, and it may recommend amendments to the constitution.

Thailand is divided into 76 provinces (changwat),each headed by a governor. Except for the governor of Bangkok, who is elected by popular vote, the provincial governors are appointed by the minister of the interior. The provinces are divided into 744 districts (amphoe), headed by appointed district officers. Municipalities are governed by elected and appointed officials, while elected heads hold power at the village level.

Thailand’s political parties were severely restricted for several decades following the 1932 change of government but have multiplied since that time. Many parties serve as the personal political machines of individuals or small groups, and few represent defined ideologies.

The populist Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) Party, founded in 1998 by businessman (later prime minister) Thaksin Shinawatra, was ordered to be disbanded by the Constitutional Court in May 2007 for breaking electoral laws in the April 2006 election campaign for parliament. Former members of the Thai Rak Thai party regrouped to form the new People Power Party (PPP), which won the 2007 elections. However, the PPP was disbanded by a court ruling in December 2008 that found the party engaged in fraud during the 2007 elections. Other prominent parties include the Prachatipat (Democrat) Party, founded in 1945 as a royalist party, and the Chart Thai (Thai Nation) Party of former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa. Encarta
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