Senate of Thailand
|This article is outdated. (October 2014)|
Surachai Leangboonloedchai (acting)
since 21 March 2014
|76 elected and 74 appointed
the Academic Sector,
the Public Sector,
the Private Sector,
the Professional Sector
|2 March 2008|
|Parliament House of Thailand|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Senate (Thai: วุฒิสภา; rtgs: Wutthisapha; formerly known as Phruetthasapha or "พฤฒสภา") is the upper house of the National Assembly of Thailand, (Thailand's legislative branch). In accordance with the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, the Senate is a non-partisan legislative chamber, composed of 150 members. Seventy-six Senators are directly elected from the 76 Provinces of Thailand and Bangkok, while the other 74 are appointed from various sectors by the Senate Selection Committee. The Senate operates under fixed terms of six years.
The idea of Bicameralism first permeated Thai Politics with the Constitution of 1946, when the government of Pridi Panomyong introduced a senate modelled on the British House of Lords. For the first time, an upper house came into existence in Thailand. The Senate was to be fully elected, however, the elections would be indirect, as the House of Representatives would elect the senators, for six-year terms. The 1946 Constitution was soon abrogated in a military coup. Subsequent constitutions saw only occasional bicameralism, and when it did exist, the Senate was always filled with appointees from the military and the elite. The 1997 Constitution saw a return to a fully elected Senate. That constitution was abrogated after the 2006 coup, and replaced with one calling for a half-elected/half-appointed Senate.
- 1947- First Thai Senate established with 100 members, all royally appointed.
- 1952- Establishment of a unicameral National Assembly with 123 members.
- 1968- Re-establishment of the Senate with 164 royally-appointed members.
- 1972- The Thai Legislature is banned by Thanom Kittikachorn.
- 1974- Return of the royally-appointed Senate.
- 1976- Re-establishment of a unicameral National Assembly with 360 members, all royally appointed.
- 1978- Return of a Senate with 225 royally-appointed members.
- 1991- Establishment of a unicameral National Assembly with 292 royally-appointed members.
- 1997- Establishment for the first time of a fully and directly elected Senate with 200 members for a 6-year term.
- 2006- Following the coup, an interim charter was signed establishing a 250 member National Legislative Assembly.
- 2007- Present system established, by referendum under the 2007 Constitution of Thailand. Half of the Senate is appointed.
- 2014- The Thai Legislature is banned by the National Council for Peace and Order.
The qualifications for the membership of the Senate can be found in section 115, Part 3, Chapter 6 of the 2007 Constitution. A candidate intent on being a member of the Senate must be a natural born citizen of Thailand as well as being 40 years or older on the year of election or selection. The candidate must have graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent. If the candidate is to be elected, he or she must be born, must have a home and be registered to vote in the province which the candidate intends to represent. The candidate must not be an ascendant, spouse or a child of a member of the House of Representatives or any person holding a political position. Must not have been a member of a political party for at least five years.
All other disqualifications are similar to that of the House, the individual must not be: addicted to drugs, been bankrupt, convicted felon, member of a local administration, a civil servant, a member of the judiciary or any other government agency. Being disenfranchised (being a member of the clergy, felon, or mentally infirm). If the candidate was a member of a local administration or a Minister he must have left his post for a period of at least five years before being eligible.
Election and Selection
Out of the 150 Senators, 76 are directly elected from the 75 Provinces of Thailand plus 1 Metropolitan district (Bangkok) - Bueng Kan province does not have its own senator yet. These members are elected using the first past the post electoral system. The election is a one-man-one vote, secret ballot vote in which a province is counted as a single representative constituency. Multiple candidates may apply; however, all must be non-partisan candidates and cannot have any connection to a political party.
See most recent election at: Thai Senate election, 2008
The remaining 73 members are to be selected by a Senators Selection Committee. The Committee is established in Section 113, Part 3 and Chapter 6 of the Constitution. The Committee is composed of:
- President of the Constitutional Court
- Chairman of the Election Commission
- Chairman of the State Audit Commission
- A Judge in the Supreme Court of Justice holding office not lower in rank than Judge of the Supreme Court of Justice as entrusted by the general assembly of the Supreme Court of Justice.
- A Judge of the Supreme Administrative Court as entrusted by the general assembly of judges of the Supreme Administrative Court.
Within themselves they must elect a Chairman who will preside over the committee. The Committee will select members of the Senate based on 5 categories of profession:
- The Academic Sector
- The Public Sector
- The Private Sector
- The Professional Sector
- And Others
The Constitution states that:
“In the selection of persons [for the Senate], particular regard shall be had to the knowledge, expertise or experience beneficial to the performance of duties of senators, and regard shall also be had to factors in relation to persons with varying knowledge and capability in varying fields, sexual opportunities and equality, a close proportion of persons in each sector…, and the provision of opportunities to the socially underprivileged persons”
The term of the Senate is six years. The term is fixed; therefore, the Senate cannot be dissolved under any circumstances and will be re-elected in accordance with a Royal Decree issued thirty days after the expiration of the term.
Members of the Senate are entitled use the title Senator in front of their names (Thai: สมาชิกวุฒิสภา or ส.ว.). Membership of an elected Senator begins on the senate election day, while an appointed senator becomes a member after the publication of the election result by the Electoral Commission. Senators cannot hold more than one consecutive term, therefore senators cannot be re-elected. A Senator whose membership expires before a new Senator can be named shall continue his or her duties until such seats are occupied. If there is a vacancy the seat is immediately filled either by election or appointment.
The Senate shares many powers with the House of Representatives; these include:
- Passing of annual Appropriations Bills
- Constitutional Amendments
- Creating and appointing committee to examine and investigate affairs.
- Passing approval resolutions advising the King in certain appointments.
- The Senate also advise the selection and the actual selection of certain members of the Judiciary.
- Selection of its Officers.
- Expulsion of members.
- Determination of its own rules and procedures.
The Senate elects three presiding officers; one President and two Vice Presidents. The President of the Senate is also the ex-officio Vice President of the National Assembly of Thailand. The election is done by secret ballot, after a resolution finalizing the selection the name is submitted to the King for formal appointment. There are no partisan officers as the Senate of Thailand is a non-partisan chamber.
- President of the Senate of Thailand and Vice President of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Thailand: Nikom Wairatpanij
- Nelson, Michael H. (April 2014). "Constitutional Contestation over Thailand's Senate, 1997 to 2014". Contemporary Southeast Asia 36 (1): 51–76.
- Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2007
- Background Note: Thailand: U.S. State Department public domain document