No impact on Senate election from lack of candidates in some districts: EC

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2024

The upcoming senatorial election will not be affected by two districts having no applicants and seven districts having candidates from only one of 20 eligible occupational groups, Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee said on Saturday.

He said the voting would go ahead as scheduled, citing relevant clauses in the senatorial election law.

A total of 48,226 people submitted their applications for the senatorial election between Monday and the last application day on Friday (May 24), which was below the EC’s target of 100,000.

Of all the applicants, 48,117 were registered as candidates, pending a complete examination of their qualifications, Sawaeng said. He added that the EC had rejected 109 applicants as they lacked qualifications or had qualities prohibited by the law.

The final list of senatorial candidates would be announced by next Friday, the EC secretary-general said.

Regarding the lower-than-expected number of applicants, he said it could be because of the high qualifications set by the law. However, he pointed to the benefit of this size of applicants, saying that he believed it would be easy for the electoral authorities to make sure the voting would be orderly.

Commenting on possible attempts to manipulate the voting, Sawaeng said the EC had been closely monitoring any suspicious developments. He also urged the public to report any suspected attempts to fix the voting result.

According to the EC, Si Sa Ket province had the largest number of Senate applicants at 2,764, followed by Bangkok (2,489), Chiang Mai (2,000), Buri Ram (1,836), and Nakhon Si Thammarat (1,798).

Nan province saw the lowest number of applicants at 98, followed by Tak (102), Samut Songkhram (128), Phang-nga (134), and Uttaradit and Nakhon Phanom (150 each).

No impact on Senate election from lack of candidates in some districts: EC

In response to the Administrative Court’s ruling on Friday against EC regulations on senatorial candidates introducing themselves, Sawaeng said on Saturday that his office would carefully study the court order this weekend and make suggestions to the election commissioners next Monday.

“We will ensure clarity for the applicants and the mass media as soon as possible,” the EC secretary-general said.

The Central Administrative Court on Friday ordered the revocation of the EC’s three regulations that limited the candidates’ introduction to not more than two A4 pages, the method of electronic introduction, and the prohibition of candidates who are artists or media professionals from using their talents to introduce themselves.

The five-year term of the junta-appointed Senate expired on May 10. Election for a new upper House will see thousands of candidates vote among themselves to pick 200 senators.

The complex system requires six rounds of voting at the district, provincial and national levels. District-level voting is tentatively scheduled for June 9, provincial-level voting for June 16, and national-level voting for June 26. The results are due to be announced on July 2.

Candidates must be Thai nationals by birth, at least 40 years old, and have at least 10 years of experience in their field. They must also have a connection with the district where they apply, either having been born there or studied, stayed, or worked there for at least two consecutive years.

Those barred from the election include political party members, public officials, senators under the current charter, former MPs, former government ministers, former local administrators, and former political party executives who vacated their seats less than five years ago. Also prohibited from contesting are parents, spouses and children of senatorial candidates, MPs, senators, political appointees, local administrators, and officials of the Constitutional Court and independent organisations.

Senate applicants will vote among themselves over six rounds to select 10 senators from 20 eligible fields: law and justice, education, public health, agriculture, science and technology, mass communication, employees/workers, business owners, tourism professionals, industrialists, artists/athletes, independent professionals, women, and elderly, disabled or ethnic groups.

Each district-level group will select five people for an inter-group poll to elect 60 district candidates. The shortlisted candidates – 55,680 from 928 districts nationwide – will then vote at the provincial level to select two from each group for a total of 40 for each of the country’s 77 provinces.

This will result in 3,080 senatorial candidates at the national level, where they will repeat the intra-group and inter-group voting to select 10 candidates for each of the 20 groups. The final 200 candidates who are selected will become senators.