Poll off to wobbly start

Poll off to wobbly start
Poll off to wobbly start

Issues that the new electoral system does not provide the Upper House that contract authors hoped will be the result of the Senate race’s start on Sunday in 928 towns across the country.


According to the 2017 law, the novel Senate to achieve the coup- appointed chamber may include 200 members selected from 20 expert groups, with 10 seats available for each group.

Candidates will choose among themselves candidates from the same group and from various professional groups at the district, provincial, and national levels during the three-phase process that the Election Commission (EC ) has organized.

At the city level, there will be an intra-group vote in which five candidates with the most votes in each team will advance to an inter-group election. In the between- group surveys, three candidates with the highest number of votes may get shortlisted per party, or 60 across 20 groups.

The shortlisted candidates are elected in a provincial election, a process that is repeated. The winning candidates then take part in the final round of the contest, where the top 10 senators from each of the 20 groups are chosen.

The new Senate should be a chamber of impartial experts in their fields, according to the charter drafters, who introduced the complicated method of intra-group and inter-group voting to stop attempts to rigg the process.

At least 100, 000 candidates must be running for office for the new system to work, and each of the 20 groups must have a sizable number of candidates to put up a big challenge against one another. However, the Senate race has attracted 48, 117 candidates.


The lack of applicant turnout has reportedly exposed the flaw of the new system, with charter drafters and academics anticipating difficulties during the election process.

Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a former senator and charter writer, claimed that the absence of candidates in some professional organizations or some districts is not as concerning as the lower-than-expected number of candidates is.

Based on media reports, in some districts, only one professional group is taking part in the election, instead of 20 professional groups.

This would mean that a candidate from each group wo n’t receive any votes during the cross-group voting, making them ineligible for the provincial-level contest.

What will the polling place do in this regard? Will these candidates be disqualified”? he asked.

When there are n’t as many applicants as there should be, according to Mr. Kamnoon, it’s difficult to say whether the new Senate will succeed in appointing members who will fulfill their duties as the charter drafters intended.

He claimed that the new Senate is intended to be different from the previous ones, which were mostly made up of legal experts to review legislation.

But this Senate election, he said, would generate only 10 senators from the legal and justice administration field.


However, Mr. Kamnoon claimed that this should not be taken as a hindrance in the new Senate’s ability to carry out their legislative responsibilities.

The senators who make up for this with their expertise can use the Senate’s secretariat for the necessary assistance, he added.

He said it is the first time the new system is implemented, so problems are anticipated. He continued, those who are unhappy with the system may begin a petition to amend the charter and the Senate election law.

Kamnoon: New Senate to be different

Olarn Thinbangtieo, a political science lecturer at Burapha University in Chon Buri province, said the low applicant turnout has posed a challenge to this new, complicated system.

Mr. Olarn stated that it is still to be seen what steps the Election Commission will take to address the issues brought on by the low number of candidates.

The provincial and national stages are destined to be flawed if the district level election is flawed, too. Today’s election is the most important.

It will be unfair to these candidates and it will undermine the purpose of this system, which seeks for the Senate to represent people in 20 fields, he said.

Olarn: Low turnout complicates poll

Stithorn Thananithichot, director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at King Prajadhipok’s Institute, said the complications related to the low turnout are not enough to justify postponing or cancelling the election.

However, the polling place must make sure that all election officials in the country follow the same set of guidelines when dealing with complications to prevent further legal disputes, he said.

Mr. Stithorn expressed concern for potential manipulation of the election results, which will become easier when the candidate pool is n’t large enough. The entire system could be harmed by this.

The analyst’s concerns echo those of caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn, who last week raised concerns that collusion might be a factor in the Senate election.

He claimed that 149 senatorial candidates had been designated as winners at the district and provincial levels, and that many more candidates might be a part of a campaign to rig the outcome.

Stithorn: Cannot justify cancelling election


The district-level election is the most important stage of the race, according to Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bhuket, a lecturer from the National Institute of Development Administration ( Nida ), and the EC must screen out candidates who are hired to participate.

He stated that it is possible for parties to try to ingrain on the election at the national level, but it might not be worthwhile because the new Senate’s function is constrained and unlikely to serve their interests.

The new Upper House, with the exception of the right to co-select a prime minister, has the same authority and obligations as its predecessor. It will screen the nominations for public independent organisations, review legislation and examine the government.

Because senators are required to participate in the charter amendment process, Mr. Phichai said the new Senate’s position on charter rewrite is the most fascinating to watch.

As for other tasks, the previous senates, whether they were elected or appointed, tended to support those in power. The new chamber is unlikely to be any different, he said.

Phichai: Parties may try to interfere

Chaithawat Tulathon, the leader of the Move Forward Party ( MPP ), expressed concern about the possibility that the election’s outcome would be postponed or even invalid.

The process could be stalled if there are a lot of complaints because the Senate election law does not specify the deadline for the Election Commission to endorse or announce the results.

Additionally, if the Senate election law conflicts with the charter, the Constitutional Court is also set to rule.

Mr. Chaithawat criticized the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO ) and the charter writers for the legal dispute involving the Senate election law.

Chaithawat: Results could be invalidated