Senate of Thailand
since 28 May 2019
First Vice President
since 28 May 2019
Second Vice President
since 28 May 2019
Length of term
Vice President: ฿115,740/m
|4 March 2000|
|30 March 2014|
(Formation process changed since the 2017 Constitution was promulgated, abolishing the elections)
The Senate of Thailand (Thai: วุฒิสภา, RTGS: Wutthisapha, pronounced [wút.tʰí.sā.pʰāː]; formerly known as Phruetthasapha (Thai: พฤฒสภา, RTGS: Phruetthasapha, pronounced [pʰrɯ́t.tʰá.sā.pʰāː]) is the upper house of the National Assembly of Thailand, Thailand's legislative branch. In accordance with the 2017 Constitution of Thailand, the Senate is a non-partisan legislative chamber, composed of 250 members. All 250 Senators are appointed by the Royal Thai Military. Senators serve five year terms in office.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives were abolished as a result of the 2014 Thai coup d'état. These were replaced with the unicameral National Legislative Assembly, a body of 250 members, selected by the National Council for Peace and Order. The 2017 constitution, which was approved by a referendum in 2016, provided for a 250-members Senate, which was not elected but rather appointed by a special committee, which was itself appointed by the military. As such, it has been often considered as a rubber stamp for decisions already taken by the military higher-ups.
The idea of bicameralism first permeated Thai politics with the Constitution of 1946, when the government of Pridi Banomyong introduced a Senate modelled on the British House of Lords. For the first time, an upper house came into existence in Thailand. The Senate was to be fully elected, however, the elections would be indirect, as the House of Representatives would elect the senators, for six-year terms. The 1946 Constitution was soon abrogated in a military coup. Subsequent constitutions saw only occasional bicameralism, and when it did exist, the Senate was always filled with appointees from the military and the elite. The 1997 Constitution saw a return to a fully elected Senate. That constitution was abrogated after the 2006 coup, and replaced with one calling for a half-elected/half-appointed Senate. The 2007 Constitution was itself repealed in 2018 following the 2014 coup, and replaced with a new one which provided for a fully appointed Senate.
The 250-person Senate is composed of 194 members selected by the ruling junta. Fifty senators represent 10 professional and social groups: bureaucrats, teachers, judges, farmers, and private companies. A shortlist of 200 were proposed to the NCPO which made the final selection of fifty. The remaining six Senate positions are reserved for the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, the defence permanent secretary, the national police chief, and the heads of the army, navy, and air force, who are all senators ex officio. As of 2020[update], 104 of the 250 senators are military or police officers.
The qualifications for the membership of the Senate could be found in section 115, Part 3, Chapter 6 of the 2007 Constitution. A candidate intent on being a member of the Senate had to be a natural born citizen of Thailand as well as being 40 years or older on the year of election or selection. The candidate must have graduated with at least a bachelor's degree or an equivalent. Elected candidates must have been born, must have had a home and had to be registered to vote in the province which the candidate intended to represent. The candidate must not have been an ascendant, spouse or a child of a member of the House of Representatives or any person holding a political position and must not have been a member of a political party for at least five years.
All other disqualifications were similar to that of the House, the individual must not have been: addicted to drugs, been bankrupt, a convicted felon, a member of a local administration, a civil servant, a member of the judiciary or any other government agency. Being disenfranchised (being a member of the clergy, felon, or mentally infirm). If the candidate was a member of a local administration or a Minister he must have left his post for a period of at least five years before being eligible.
Depending on the situation in each constitution.
The term of the Senate is five years. The term is fixed, therefore the Senate cannot be dissolved under any circumstances and would be re-elected in accordance with a Royal Decree issued thirty days after the expiration of the term.
Members of the Senate are entitled use the title Senator in front of their names (Thai: สมาชิกวุฒิสภา or ส.ว.). Membership of an elected Senator began on the senate election day, while an appointed senator became a member after the publication of the election result by the Electoral Commission. Senators could not hold more than one consecutive term, therefore senators could not be re-elected. A Senator whose membership expired before a new Senator could be named continued his or her duties until such seats were occupied. If there was a vacancy the seat was immediately filled either by election or appointment.
The Senate shares many powers with the House of Representatives; these include:
The Senate elected three presiding officers; one president and two vice presidents. The president of the Senate was also the ex-officio vice president of the National Assembly of Thailand. The election was done by secret ballot, after a resolution finalizing the selection the name was submitted to the king for formal appointment. There were no partisan officers as the Senate of Thailand was a non-partisan chamber.