Senate poll must be fair
text size

Senate poll must be fair

The military-appointed senators will end their five-year term on May 10. That marks an end to their controversial time in Upper House.

Despite these senators playing a role in helping pass good laws, they will mainly be remembered for edging out Pita Limcharoenrat, former leader of the Move Forward Party, from being prime minister.

Now, the public and pundits have their eyes set on the future -- the election process for a new 200-seat Senate that officially kicks off next month.

Before we dream of more democratic Senate, we must first hope that voters can overcome the complexities of the election system.

The process is esoteric to almost everyone. The system does not allow for direct public elections of senators. In this system, eligible voters can run for the Senate.

The election comes in three tiers: district, province, and national. At the district level, 55,680 individuals will be elected from the top three applicants of each professional group across 928 districts.

From this pool, 3,080 individuals will be elected from the top two at each provincial level, covering 77 provinces.

Of this, finally, the 200 senators will be elected from the top 10 candidates of each professional group at the national level.

The intricate system is designed to prevent "bloc voting," but it poses challenges to the Election Commission (EC)'s ability to ensure fair competition, as some groups or candidates might have greater financial and influential clout.

Outgoing senator Seree Suwanpanont, chairman of the Senate committee on political development and public participation, recently warned of parties' attempts to manipulate the system to dominate the Upper House with their own representatives.

This could result in a Senate comprising mainly allies of major parties from the House of Representatives.

He warned of major parties getting involved in selecting candidates.

He said the parties' superior financial firepower and organisational structure could ensure their candidates get an edge over independent candidates who stand for the election. Something similar was happening at the civic body level.

The EC must ensure fairness and transparency. With no royal decree for the senator election or regulations in place to control attempted bloc-voting or manipulation, the EC may need to expedite guidelines to address the manoeuvres of political and interest groups.

Early implementation of guidelines is crucial to prevent election fraud and complaints that could lead to delays in seating the new senators.

An increase in complaints of fraud and irregularities involving the election process would prolong the tenure of military-backed senators, as they would be in a caretaker role until the newly elected senators take office, further complicating the transition.

The upcoming Senate election marks another milestone in the emerging democratic landscape of the nation.

The complexity and intricacies of the electoral process highlight the need to uphold transparency, fairness, and integrity to ensure the new Senate truly represents the diverse professional groups of society.

As such, the EC must adopt proactive measures towards ensuring a fair and transparent election that fosters public trust and confidence.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email :

Do you like the content of this article?