Senators to be crossed-elected after 5-year transition period

After a five-year transition period in which 250 senators will be hand-picked by the junta, a reduced number of 200 senators will be elected from among 20 professional groups.

On 5 August 2017, Norachit Sinhaseni, spokesperson of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), announced the draft of the organic law on how the senate will be elected after 2022, the Thai News Agency reported.

According to the CDC plan, 10 senators will be selected from each of 20 professional groups.

Each candidate applies to represent one group in one district. At the district level, each candidate in a group can cast two votes within the group, one of which could be a vote for themselves. The five candidates who obtain the most votes from each of the group then proceed to the next step where they will cross-elect candidates from the winners in other groups.

Norachit elaborated that to prevent corruption the 20 professional groups will be randomly allocated by lot to divisions. The Election Commission (EC) will decide how many divisions will there be.  So for example, if the EC decides on 4 divisions, there will be 5 professional groups in each division. 

The 5 winning candidates from each professional group will each have 3 votes to give to candidates in each professional group in other divisions.  The 3 candidates in each professional group with the most votes, which will total 60 for the district, will then move to the provincial level.

At the provincial level, the EC will again randomly allocate professional groups to divisions and cross-selection will be repeated, though this time only the top candidate in each professional group will go to the national level.

At the national-level, another round of cross-voting will elect 10 representatives of each professional group, making 200 senators in all.

The organic draft bill also includes a punishment of up to 10 years in prison or a fine of 20,000-200,000 baht or both, together with a 10-year election ban, for people found guilty of discouraging or supporting certain candidates for their own benefit.

According to Thairath News, Nipit Intrasombat, Deputy Chair of the Democrat Party, said although the 20 professional groups seem to be in accordance with the 2017 Constitution, the detailed selection process and the proportion of candidates from different groups are still unclear.

He also said that he personally believes that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has already pre-selected the 250 senators in the transition period in order to prolong their rule.

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