The forthcoming senatorial election will be the second time for Thai people to have a direct election of senators. Thai people elected senators for the first time on 4 March 2000. Since the term of Thailand’s first elected Senate ended on 21 March 2006, a royal decree was issued, setting the next senatorial election on April 19, with advance voting on April 13 and 14. The election day must be fixed within 30 days from the date of the expiration of the term of the Senate.
A total of 1,477 candidates registered for this senatorial election nationwide. Out of this number, 405 are contesting in the central region and Bangkok, 137 in the central and eastern regions, 238 in the South, 460 in the Northeast, and 237 in the North. However, the Election Commission of Thailand disqualified 14 candidates.
Bangkok has the highest number of candidates, with 260, but five were disqualified. They are vying for 18 seats in the city. The Senate consists of 200 members, and its term is six years. In each election of senators, each province is regarded as one constituency. Each eligible voter is allowed to cast ballot for only one candidate. In provinces that can have more than one senator, the candidates who receive the highest number of votes in respective order for the number of senators that the province can have will be elected as senators.
The present Constitution of Thailand states that a candidate running in an election of senators must be a Thai national by birth and must be at least 40 years old. He or she must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and must not be a member of the House of Representatives, a political official, a member of a local assembly, or a local administrator.
Other qualifications are that the candidate must have his or her name on a house registration document for at least one year before applying for the election, or must be born in the province where he or she is contesting. He or she must not be a member of any political party. The election law does not allow candidates running for the Senate to campaign for votes, unlike those contesting for the House of Representatives. But they are allowed to distribute documents to introduce themselves.
Apart from screening bills passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate is empowered to seek a general debate for the Cabinet to clarify certain issues without voting. It may initiate impeachment proceedings against political office holders accused of wrongdoing. The Senate also selects holders of important posts in such independent organizations as the Election Commission, the Ombudsman, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, the Constitutional Court, and the National Counter Corruption Commission, and the Auditor General of Thailand