Thai EC announces senators to replace junta-appointed members

Selected under a new system, these lawmakers will not have power to vote for prime minister.
Nontarat Phaicharoen
Thai EC announces senators to replace junta-appointed members Angkhana Neelapaijit, former National Human Rights commissioner and now-senator, gestures before she casts her vote during the final round of Thailand’s national senatorial election in Bangkok, June 26, 2024.
Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday certified 200 newly elected senators who will no longer have the power to vote on deciding who becomes prime minister, putting an end to a controversial legacy of junta rule.

The new members will replace the 250 senators appointed by the junta five years ago whose term ended in May. They had blocked the election of the prime minister candidate from the Move Forward Party, which won the most seats in the May 14, 2023, general election.

The new crop of upper house lawmakers is the first under a new senatorial selection system. And while they may not have the power to vote for the prime minister, they will still play a crucial role in Thailand’s political landscape, including approving potential amendments to the constitution.

Although there was some criticism alleging the selection system for senators was unfair, Sawang Boonmee, the EC secretary-general, said that had yet to be determined. 

“After careful consideration, it was determined that the Senate elections were conducted correctly, honestly and impartially. Therefore, a resolution was passed to announce the election results of each of the 20 [contesting] groups,” he said. 

“We still cannot say that the election was not honest and fair. To present evidence to the Supreme Court, the law states that there must be credible evidence that the election was not conducted honestly and fairly.”

The 200 members are scheduled to report to the Secretariat of the Senate on Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, a Constitutional Court case filed by 40 of the junta-appointed senators that calls for the removal of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin remains valid because it had already been accepted for consideration. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 24.

“The court calls for more information including evidence and from individuals that were previously summoned,” it said in a statement.

10 TH-senate-2b.jpg
Candidates wait to vote during the final round of Thailand’s national senatorial election in Bangkok, June 26, 2024. [Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

Notable members of the new senate include Gen. Kriangkrai Srirak, an adviser to the interior minister; Weerasak Wichitsangsri, a former governor of Samut Sakhon province; Prapart Pintobtang, a professor at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science; and Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former National Human Rights Commissioner.

The commission reported that of 48,117 applicants nationwide, a little more than 1,900 were rejected, while some others were eliminated at different stages of the process. Citizens were not able to vote for the new senators.

All candidates were involved in the complex selection process, which started at the district level, before successful candidates advanced to the provincial and national levels. The commission reported receiving more than 800 complaints about the process, with 65% concerning candidate qualifications. 

Jade Donavanik, dean of the law faculty at Asia Graduate School, advised against nullifying the election in the face of criticisms.

“We must continue to monitor. Who is not performing their duties well? Who is biased?” he told the media.

Candidates were required to be at least 40 years old, pay a 2,500 baht (U.S. $68.84) application fee, have at least 10 years of experience in their field and demonstrate a connection to their district. The 20 professional groups, which elected 10 members each, included public administration and security, law and justice, and agriculture.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.