When the Thai army seized power in May 2014, it described it as a coup to end all coups.
The army had failed to do the job properly during the previous attempt, in 2006, one of the coup leaders told us in 2014. This time we will fix things so we never have to intervene again, he said.
The official script of the coup makers was that they intervened to end the crippling political turmoil which had shaken Thailand for most of the previous decade.
Less officially though, the junta had two objectives; to secure the first royal succession in 70 years, which, after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, it did; and to cripple the political movement loyal to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which had won every election since 2001.
The election taking place this Sunday in Thailand has to be understood within the context of this last objective.
The military’s grip on power
Far from conceding the political playing field to civilian politicians, the military is campaigning to stay in power, and has tilted the field in its own favour.