At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Thailand once again suffered political instability. This article argues that the reason for this renewed instability is found in contesting notions of political legitimacy. At one end of the spectrum is the traditional conception of a stratified paternal-authoritarian state where power emanates from the king and his networks-a view closely associated with the trinitarian state ideology of "nation, religion, king." At the other is a much younger and weaker, yet still sturdy, opposing tradition of claiming popular sovereignty, constitutionalism, and performance as an alternative basis of legitimacy. Whether and how Thailand is able to resolve the inherent tension over these conflicting notions of legitimacy is thus critical not only for its return to stability but also for the type of political order likely to emerge in the future.