Counting Thailand’s coups

1932 is usually described as the beginning of Thailand’s century-long coup season. Once upon a time when I sought to determine when this history of coups began I was surprised to find obscure references to aborted military interventions in national politics in 1912 and 1917. Long since forgotten.

Here on New Mandala we recently hosted a discussion about Thailand’s coup history where I suggested that counting the number of coups (attempted and successful) is a complicated business. Often, when somebody asks “how many coups have there been in Thailand?”, the final number that is cited is 18 but I fear that this may be a product of force of habit rather than hard number crunching.

So I wonder if the collective expertise of New Mandala readers might help us to more precisely tally up the total coup attempts, and successful coups, in Thai history. Keeping the focus on the 20th century will make matters simpler but I appreciate that some may want to introduce more historical depth. Just to get us started I have my (probably incomplete and inaccurate) list below.

It would be terrific if we could make the list definitive.

As it stands I have 11 “successful” and 9 “unsuccessful” coup efforts in the 20th century for a total of 20. For the more obscure episodes I have added links to other details. But it would be terrific if a final tally could be made, with all of the various categories of coup (plot, attempt, success; to include กบฏ, รัฐประหาร, รัฐประหารเงียบ, etc) matched against their historical details. Definitional issues are, of course, at stake but we are happy to hear discussion on all of the technical points that matter.

Please share your knowledge to help us count Thailand’s military coups once-and-for-all. As new information is added in comments I can put it in this main list which can be revised as often as we like.

Coup (attempt) of 1912

Some details are available here.

Coup (attempt) of 1917

Aborted: Few details seem to exist.

Coup of 1932

Friday, 24 June 1932

Coup of 1933

Tuesday, 20 June 1933

Coup of 1939

Some details are here.

Coup of 1947

Saturday, 8 November 1947

Coup (attempt) of 1948

Some details are available here.

Coup (attempt) of 1949

Saturday, 26 February 1949

Coup (attempt) of 1951 (Manhattan)

Friday, 29 June 1951

Coup of 1951

Thursday, 29 November 1951

Coup of 1957

Tuesday, 17 September 1957

Coup of 1958

Monday, 20 October 1958

Coup of 1971

Wednesday, 17 November 1971

Coup of 1976

Wednesday, 6 October 1976

Coup (attempt) of 1977

Saturday, 26 March 1977

Coup of 1977

Thursday, 20 October 1977

Coup (attempt) of 1981 (“Young Turks”)

Wednesday, 1 April 1981

Coup (attempt) of 1985

Monday, 9 September 1985

Coup of 1991

Saturday, 23 February 1991

Coup of 2006

Tuesday, 19 September 2006