Some parts of the Government of Thailand are selected through democratic elections. These include the House of Representatives of Thailand, (which combines with the appointed Senate of Thailand to create the National Assembly of Thailand), local Administrations, Governorship of Bangkok and national referendums. Thailand has so far had 28 general elections since 1933; the last election was in 2023. Voting in elections in Thailand is compulsory. All elections in Thailand are regulated by the Election Commission of Thailand.

Suffrage

Example ballot paper on show at voting booth, 2007

Elections are held under universal suffrage in accordance with the 2007 Constitution; however, certain restrictions apply:

Regarding universal suffrage, Thailand (and Siam) has given women right to vote in national election since 1932, and in village election since 1897, which could make Thailand the second country in the world to do so.[1]

Elections

House of Representatives

Further information: 2023 Thai general election

The House of Representatives consists of 500 members, of which 350 are directly elected through the first past the post system in which each member represents one "constituency". The other 150 is elected through party lists given to the election commission by the political parties before election day.[2] In the current system as laid out by the 2017 constitution, known as "mixed member apportionment (MMA)", the voter casts a single vote for a constituency MP, which is then also used in the calculation of the party list seats. This differs from the previous 2007 constitution, where the vote for constituency MP and party list MP were separate.[3]

Special elections can be called if the candidate fail to pass the commission's standards (known as yellow-cards) or if a vacancy occurs. The commission also have the authority to annul or ban candidates based on their standards (red-cards). The last election for the House occurred in 2019, with a special election being held in Chiang Mai after the winning candidate was disqualified.[4] The House has a term of four years[5] but may be dissolved before that time.[6]

Senate

The current 250 senators of the Senate of Thailand were not elected, but were appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order, the military junta which ruled Thailand from 2014 to the 2019 general election.[7] The 2017 constitution does not include elections for the Senate.

In the previous 2007 constitution, the Senate was composed of 150 members. Of these, 76 were directly elected, while 74 members were appointed. Of the elected members, 75 came from the Provinces of Thailand, and one from the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. The election was based on the first past the post system. The last election for the Senate occurred in 2014.

The Senate is a non-partisan chamber and therefore candidates cannot be a member of a political party. Terms are fixed at six years.

Election Day during the 2007 general election

Local administration

There are three different levels of municipalities (Thai: เทศบาล), which all elect their own municipal council and mayor. The municipalities are split into constituencies, which each elect six councillors. The number of constituencies depends on the municipal level.

The Tambon Administrative Organizations, a local government similar to the municipalities, also has an elected council and mayor. Every administrative village within the TAO sends two councillors to the council, only if there are less than three villages the number of councillors per villages is increased to reach the minimum size of six councillors. Pattaya as a special administrative area has a council with 24 seats and an elected mayor, same as a city.

Additionally, every province has a province-wide local government named the Provincial Administrative Organization with an elected council and chairman. The size of the council depends on the population of the province.

For all the local governments, the electoral term is four years. If a councillor positions becomes vacant, a by-election is held in the corresponding constituency, if a mayor position becomes vacant, a new election for a four-year term is held. Thus elections for mayor and council are not necessarily on the same date.

City of Bangkok

Councils

See also: 2022 Bangkok Metropolitan Council election

Bangkok is divided into 50 local district councils, one for every district. The size of these councils differ between 7 and 8. Additionally, there are 61 seats in the Bangkok Metropolitan Council (BMC). The election follow a four-year cycle. The most recent local election was in 2022.

Gubernatorial

See also: 2022 Bangkok gubernatorial election

The Governor of Bangkok is the only elected Governor in the country. The Governor holds a four-year renewable term. The election does not coincide with that of the district councils or the BMC. The most recent election for Governor of Bangkok was in 2022.

Referendums

Main articles: 2007 Thai constitutional referendum and 2016 Thai constitutional referendum

There has only been two constitutional referendums, in 2007 and 2016.

Issues

There have been many issues especially in recent years concerning elections in Thailand. Accusations of vote buying and blackmail have been most cited. Most accusations leveled concern vote buying, particularly in rural areas where representatives of political parties or district captains are sent out offering up to 2,000 Baht for a vote. Others concern cheating and ballot tampering.

Other issues concern the powers of the Election Commission, an unelected and unaccountable body of five, which has absolute authority to cancel elections at will. It is also the sole arbiter and interpreter of Thai election laws. It has been incredibly active in the last two general elections in annulling and disqualifying candidates.

Voter turnout during elections is not much of a problem in Thailand as voting is compulsory and is one of the responsibilities described in the Constitution a citizen must exercise. Turnout is however much higher during general elections (85% in 2007, 75% in 2019[8]) than they are for Senate (56% in 2008, 43% in 2014[9]) or local elections (54% for Bangkok Governor in 2008).

List of elections

General elections

Election Date Turnout Seats Registered
voters
Win party
Party Seats Share
1933 15 November 1933 41.45% 78 of the 156 4,278,231
1937 7 November 1937 40.22% 91 of the 182 6,123,239
1938 12 November 1938 35.03% 6,310,172
1946 6 January 1946 32.52% 96 of the 192 6,431,827
1948 29 January 1948 29.50% 99 of the 186 7,176,891


1952 26 February 1952 38.95% 123 of the 246 7,602,591
1957 (Feb) 26 February 1957 57.50% 160 of the 283 9,859,039 Seri Manangkhasila 86
1957 (Dec) 15 December 1957 44.07% 160 of the 281 9,917,417 Sahaphum 44
1969 10 February 1969 49.16% 219 14,820,180 United Thai People's 75
1975 26 January 1975 47.18% 269 20,242,791 Democrat 72 17.23%
1976 4 April 1976 43.99% 279 20,623,430 114 25.31%
1979 22 April 1979 43.90% 301 21,284,790 Social Action
(Opposition)
82 21.26%
1983 18 April 1983 50.76% 324 24,224,470 Social Action 92 26.78%
1986 27 July 1986 61.43% 347 26,160,100 Democrat 100 22.52 %
1988 24 July 1988 63.56% 357 26,658,638 Chart Thai 87 19.29%
1992 (Mar) 22 March 1992 59.24% 360 32,436,283 Justice Unity 79 19.27%
1992 (Sep) 13 September 1992 61.59% 31,860,156 Democrat 79 21.02%
1995 2 July 1995 62.04% 391 37,817,983 Chart Thai 92 22.83%
1996 17 November 1996 62.42% 393 38,564,593 New Aspiration 125 29.14%
2001 6 January 2001 69.43% 500 42,875,036 Thai Rak Thai 248 39.91%
2005 6 February 2005 72.56% 44,572,101 377 60.48%
2006 2 April 2006 64.77% 44,909,562 Thai Rak Thai
(nullified)
461
(nullified)
59.91%
(nullified)
2007 23 December 2007 85.38% 480 45,658,170 People's Power 233 38.61%
2011 3 July 2011 75.03% 500 46,939,549 Pheu Thai 265 47.03%
2014 2 February 2014 47.72 % 43,024,042 Invalidated
2019 24 March 2019 74.69% 51,239,638 Pheu Thai
(Opposition)
136 21.92%
2023 14 May 2023 75.64% 52,287,046 Move Forward
(Opposition)
151 37.99%

Senate elections

See also

References

  1. ^ Bowie, Katherine (2010). "Women's Suffrage in Thailand: A Southeast Asian Historiographical Challenge". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 52 (4): 708–741. doi:10.1017/S0010417510000435.
  2. ^ Article 83 of the Constitution of Thailand (2017)
  3. ^ "Most people confused by new electoral system: Nida Poll". Bangkok Post. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  4. ^ Saksornchai, Jintamas (24 April 2019). "By-Election Ordered in Chiang Mai as Pheu Thai Winner Disqualified". Khaosod English. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  5. ^ Article 99 of the Constitution of Thailand (2017)
  6. ^ Article 103 of the Constitution of Thailand (2017)
  7. ^ Kendall, Dave (28 January 2019). "Explainer: The appointed Senate". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  8. ^ Election Commission (28 March 2019). "article_20190328165029" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 June 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  9. ^ Bangprapa, Mongkol (30 March 2014). "Jaruwan set to win Bangkok senate poll". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 5 August 2019.