Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen were prominent jurists during the Weimar Republic who engaged in the debate on the nature and use of emergency powers in a political crisis of liberal democracy (‘PCLD’). As a liberal, Kelsen advocated a law-based response to an emergency situation together with the narrow interpretation of emergency powers and constitutional review, whereas as an anti-liberal conservative, Schmitt called for legally unconstrained emergency decisions by the sovereign to exclude ‘enemies’ causing a political crisis. This thesis considers how this debate might apply to Thailand. In post-absolutist Thailand after 1932, the conflict between the pro-democracy and the conservative factions reflected the PCLD, and resulted in military coups together with martial law supported by the suspension of liberal democracy viewed as a threat to the nationalist-conservative tradition known as Thai-ness and other uses of emergency legislations by the government of both factions.Though the conservative, later known as the ‘Yellow’ faction, still holds the upper-hand in politics given its ability to engineer a coup—the invocation of sovereign authority in the Schmittian sense—such hegemony and ability have been declining in recent years due to the struggles for a commitment to liberal constitutionalism, including the fuller implementation of the Kelsenian project in 1997. The application of the Kelsen-Schmitt debate in the Thai context accordingly exemplifies an aspiring democracy struggling against the declining hegemony of the Schmittian idea. It then reveals what I call the binary-star conception of emergency powers which shows the gravitational pull between the increasing need to liberalise and institutionalise the Schmittian idea, especially by resorting to a Kelsenian legal-rational legitimacy, and the growing need to resort to Schmitt’s idea of political struggle to move the Kelsenian liberal-democratic project forward.
|Date of Award||23 Jan 2019|
- The University of Bristol
|Supervisor||Steven C Greer (Supervisor) & Athanasios Psygkas (Supervisor)|