Thailand Election 2023: women in Thai politics

TUESDAY, MAY 09, 2023

As the election draws near, The Nation looks at the number of women who participated in Thai politics under the previous government, as well as those running in this election.

Women in Thailand’s Parliament

The 2019 general election concluded with 500 elected MPs – 350 constituency MPs and 150 party list – from 25 political parties. Of the total, 76 people, or only 14%, are women.

Palang Pracharath Party gained the highest number of female MPs with 22 , followed by Pheu Thai (21), Future Forward (12), Democrat (9), and Bhumjaithai Party (4).

The Action Coalition for Thailand, Thai Liberal, and For the Nation Party all have two female MPs each, while Ponlamuang Thai and New Economics Party have one. Two have declared themselves as LGBTQ+.

However, since some of the Lower House's members were later disqualified, the number of women MPs decreases to just 74, or 16.63%, although the percentage increases due to the lower number of MPs.

That figure puts Thailand in 137th place on the list of countries with the most women MPs drawn up by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Out of the 185 countries on the list, Rwanda has the highest number of women in the Lower House with 49 out of 80 seats, or 61.3%, followed by Cuba (55.7%), Nicaragua (51.7%), Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates (50%), and Iceland (47.6%).

IPU’s data, as of April this year, also gives the global average of women in national parliaments at 26.8%.

As for the upper house, only 26 out of 250 senators are women – or 10.40%. The information from iLAW, a website run by Thai activists, shows that no woman has ever been named President of the Parliament in Thailand.

Also, other independent government agencies including the Election Commission (EC) and the Constitutional Court have no female members. The EC comprises seven members, while the court has nine judges.

The data from iLAW also reveal that only one woman has served as a member of each agency since their creation in 1997. Throughout history, there have been 53 judges on the Constitutional Court and 27 on committees for the EC.

However, only two out of the seven currently represented in the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission are women.

Women in this election

Stithorn Thananithichot, a researcher at King Prajadhipok's Institute told BBC Thai that the number of female candidates for MPs is still lower than that of men, but is tending to rise.

According to the information from the EC, in this election, up to 4,781 people have applied to be MP candidates. Of the total, 3,903 are men, and just 878 are women, accounting for only 18%, even though female voters outnumber men.

With 73 candidates each, the Move Forward and Bhumjaithai parties have the most female candidates for constituency MPs, followed by Pheu Thai (70), Palang Pracharath Party (64), United Thai Nation Party (62), Thai Sang Thai (49), and Democrat (17).

As for party-list MPs, United Thai Nation Party has the highest number of female MPs candidates at 23, followed by Thai Sang Thai (18), Bhumjaithai (17), Palang Pracharath Party as well as Democrat (16), and Move Forward as well as Pheu Thai, both with 15.

In this election, there will be 400 constituency MPs and 100 party-list MPs.

Also, nine of the 62 candidates vying for PM from the 43 political parties are women.

Thailand Election 2023: women in Thai politics