Election chaos: Senate vote to proceed despite district drama

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Photo courtesy of The Nation

In a dramatic twist leading up to the senatorial election, Election Commission (EC) Secretary-General Sawaeng Boonmee announced yesterday that the upcoming senate vote will go ahead as scheduled, despite significant issues in some districts.

Sawaeng confirmed that two districts had no applicants, while seven districts saw candidates emerging from just one of the 20 eligible occupational groups. Nevertheless, he reassured the public that the election would not be disrupted, citing specific clauses in the senatorial election law.

Between Monday, May 20 and Friday, May 24, 48,226 people submitted their applications for the election, falling short of the EC’s target of 100,000. Of these, 48,117 were registered as candidates, pending a thorough qualification check. The EC rejected 109 applicants due to disqualifying factors.

“The final list of senatorial candidates will be announced by next Friday.”

Sawaeng attributed the lower-than-expected number of applicants to stringent qualification requirements but noted that the manageable number would facilitate orderly voting.

The EC secretary-general addressed concerns about potential election tampering, assuring that the EC is vigilantly monitoring any suspicious activities. He urged the public to report any suspected manipulation attempts. Si Sa Ket province had the highest number of Senate applicants at 2,764, while Nan province had the fewest with just 98.

The EC is also reviewing a recent Administrative Court ruling that overturned regulations limiting candidates’ self-introductions. The court’s decision allows candidates more freedom in their campaigns, a development Sawaeng said the EC would address promptly.

The five-year term of the junta-appointed Senate expired on May 10, prompting the upcoming elections. The complex voting process involves six rounds at district, provincial, and national levels, beginning June 9.

Candidates must be Thai nationals by birth, at least 40 years old, with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in their field. Various groups, including political party members and former MPs, are barred from running, reported The Nation.

Senate hopefuls will vote amongst themselves across six rounds to narrow down to the final 200 senators. The process ensures representation from 20 occupational fields, making this election a pivotal moment in Thailand’s political landscape.

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