IV-12. “The Role of the Judiciary in Democratization: Comparison of Thailand and Indonesia” (H25 FY2013)

  • Project Leader : Toyama Ayako (Kyoto University, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies)
  • Collaborators : Tamada Yoshifumi (Kyoto University, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies)
  • : Okamoto Masaaki (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  • : Nagai Fumio (Osaka City University, Graduate School of Law)
  • : Aizawa Nobuhiro (Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade Organization)
  • : Miichi Ken (Iwate Prefectural University, Faculty of Policy Studies)

Outline of Research

Currently, many scholars pay attention to the role of the judiciary in democratization in Southeast Asia. For example, the Constitutional Court of Thailand began to gain major political influence after dismantling the two ruling parties. However, strong opposition to the Constitutional Court occurred after these judgments. On the other hand, in Indonesia, the Constitutional Court has been appreciated for its active role in democratization. Why are there such differences between these two countries? The purpose of our research is to compare the political backgrounds and institutional designs of the Constitutional Courts of the two countries in order to resolve this question.


In order to guarantee the “quality” of emerging democracies, judiciaries are expected to play an important political role. When reviewing the situation in Southeast Asia, Thailand and Indonesia present a marked contrast in respect to democratization. In the 1990s, Thailand’s democratization went through a consolidation period in a short period of time. However, Thai politics has become unstable due to the judicial decisions of the Constitutional Court that have dismantled the ruling parties on two occasions. On the other hand, Indonesia has been ruled by authoritarian regimes for a long time, but after the Suharto regime collapsed in 1998, its democracy rapidly progressed. At present, Indonesia has become an ideal model of democratization in ASEAN. In Indonesia, the Constitutional Court is often seen to rule neutrally and promote the consolidation of electoral politics. After focusing on the differences of institutional designs of the Constitutional Court of the two countries, we will clarify the problems in the political role of judiciary in democracy.

Recently, the role of the judiciary drew the attention in emerging democracies countries, but it is poorly studied academically. Therefore, this comparative study of the political roles of the judiciary between Indonesia and Thailand is also expected to be able to contribute greatly to the democratization study in other regions.

Constitutional Court of Thailand honors the Queen’s birthday

Constitutional Court of Indonesia