Elections in Thailand
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Elections in Thailand (Thai: การเลือกตั้งในประเทศไทย) refers to the democratic process in which some parts of the Government of Thailand is selected. These include the House of Representatives of Thailand, the Senate of Thailand (combined to create National Assembly of Thailand), local Administrations, Governorship of Bangkok and national referendums. Thailand have so far had 25 general elections since 1933, the last election was in 2011. Voting in elections in Thailand is compulsory. All elections in Thailand are regulated by the Election Commission of Thailand.
Elections are held under universal suffrage in accordance with the 2007 Constitution; however certain restrictions apply:
- The voter must be a national of Thailand; if not by birth then by being a citizen for 5 years.
- Must be over 18 years old before the year the election is held.
- The voter must have also registered ninety days before the election at his constituency.
- Those barred from voting in House elections are: members of the sangha or clergy, those suspended from the privilege (for various reasons), detainees under legal or court orders and being of unsound mind or of mental infirmity.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives consists of 480 members, of which 400 is directly elected through the first past the post system in where each member represents one constituency. The other 80 is elected through "Proportional representation", in fact it is a form of parallel voting or Mixed Member Majoritarian system (MMM), in which the voter first casts a vote for his or her constituency MP and then a second vote for party preference. At the end of election the 80 seats are allotted in accordance with these second votes, through Party lists given to the election commission by political parties before election day. Party list MPs are select from on 8 lists based on eight "electoral areas":
- Area 1 : 11 provinces with 7,615,610 population - Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae, Sukhothai, Tak, and Kamphaeng Phet
- Area 2 : 9 provinces with 7,897,563 population - Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Lop Buri, and Uttaradit
- Area 3 : 10 provinces with 7,959,163 population - Nong Khai, Udon Thani, Loei, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Nong Bua Lamphu, Kalasin, Mukdahan, Maha Sarakham, and Amnat Charoen
- Area 4 : 6 provinces with 7,992,434 population - Roi Et, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Surin, and Buri Ram
- Area 5 : 10 provinces with 7,818,710 population - Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, and Pathum Thani
- Area 6 : 3 provinces with 7,802,639 population - Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and Samut Prakan
- Area 7 : 15 provinces with 7,800,965 population - Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Ranong, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Samut Sakhon, and Samut Songkhram
- Area 8 : 12 provinces with 7,941,622 population - Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Phuket, Trang, Phatthalung, Satun, Songkhla, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala
Special elections can be called if the candidate fail to pass the commission's standards (Known as yellow-cards) or if a vacancy occurs. The commission also have the authority to annul or ban candidates based on their standards (Red-cards). The term for the House is 4 years not fixed. The last election for the House occurred in 2007.
The electoral system was changed on 11 February 2011, with an increase to 500 seats in the House, of which 375 will come from constituencies and 125 from party lists. Furthermore the Division of the party list into Area lists was abolished.
Further reading: Thai general election, 2011
The Senate is composed of 150 members. Of these, 76 are directly elected, while 74 members are appointed. Of the elected members, 75 come from the Provinces of Thailand, and one from the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. The Senate is a non-partisan chamber and therefore candidates cannot be a member of a political party. The election is based on the First Past the Post system. Terms are fixed at six years. The last election for the Senate occurred in 2008.
Further reading: Thai Senate election, 2008
There are three different levels of municipalities (Thai: เทศบาล):
- thesaban nakhon (city): More than 50,000 citizens, population density higher than 3,000 per km²
- thesaban mueang (town): More than 10,000 citizens, population density higher than 3,000 per km² - or a provincial capital
- thesaban tambon (subdistrict municipality): More than 5,000 citizens, population density higher than 1,500 per km²
All of these elect their own district councils and Mayor. there are 36 district councils. The election follow a 4 years cycle.
City of Bangkok
The Governor of Bangkok is one of two elected Governors in the country (Pattaya being the other). The Governor holds a four year renewable term. The election does not coincide with that of the district council or the BMC. The most recent election for Governor of Bangkok was in 2012.
Further reading: Thai constitutional referendum, 2007
There has been many issues especially in recent years concerning elections in Thailand. Accusation of vote buying and blackmail has been most cited. Most accusations leveled concerns vote buying particularly in rural areas where representatives of political parties or district captains are sent out offering up to 2,000 Baht for a vote. Others concern cheating and ballot tempering.
Other issues concern the powers of the Election Commission, an unelected and unaccountable body of five, which has absolute authority to cancel elections at will. It is also the sole arbiter and interpreter of Thai election laws. It has been incredibly active in the last two general elections in annulling and disqualifying candidates.
Voter turnout during elections is not much of a problem in Thailand as voting is compulsory and is one of the responsibilities described in the Constitution a citizen must exercise. Turnout is however much higher during general elections (85% in 2007) than they are for Senate (56% in 2008) or local elections (54% for Bangkok Governor in 2008).
- "Approved charter amendments pave way for Thai new election - People's Daily Online". English.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- Adam Carr's Election Archive
- Thailand Electoral Commission
- Thailand at the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS)