Senators bill focuses on cross-election

RAYONG: Constitution writers have agreed on a football-like approach to choosing senators after 2022.

The 2017 charter stipulates that there will be 250 senators in the first five years, to be screened and handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order. In 2022, the number will be reduced to 200 and the senators will be elected among professional groups.

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) is drafting the organic law on sources of senators and reached a conclusion on Saturday on how to select them after the first five years.

The 200 senators will come from 20 professional groups of 10 each, CDC spokesman Norachit Singhaseni said at a meeting in Rayong on Saturday.

Each candidate can apply to represent only one group and one district. The application fee is 2,500 baht, he said.

At the district level, each candidate in a group can cast votes for two people in that group. The top five vote-getters in each group are the winners, meaning there are 100 candidates per district. The winners of each group then cross-elect the winners in other groups.

To prevent collusion and fraud, the Election Commission (EC) will create “divisions” of the 20 groups through a random draw, the same way as for a football tournament. If the EC decides to have five divisions, then it will draw to pick four groups for each one.

The qualifiers in each group in a division will then elect those in another division, also to be determined by a draw. They can choose three from each group in the division. The top three of each group are the winners,bringing the total down to 60 to represent 20 groups in each district.

At the provincial level, the same method of cross-election applies, with the EC making a new draw to create divisions. This time, only one person will be elected for each group, giving the province 20 qualifiers. Some provinces might not have 20 qualifiers as some professions may not be common in the areas, Mr Norachit acknowledged. 

The same system applies again at the national level, with qualifiers choosing 10 for each group, totalling 200. The rest will be substitutes.

The bill will also include penalties against those who support or discourage certain candidates for their own benefit, the benefits of others, or for mutual benefit. Executives of political parties or local administrations who help candidates win or candidates who accept such help will also be prosecuted. Giving incentives, vote-buying or holding feasts, or threatening others, will be punishable by 1-10 years in jail and fines ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 baht, plus a 10-year ban from politics.   

The 20 professional groups are are:

  1. Public administration and security (civil servants, state officials, armed forces)
  2. Legal and judicial system (judges, justices, prosecutors, police, legal professionals or law lecturers who are not officials)
  3. Education (teachers, lecturers, researchers and educational administrators)
  4. Public health
  5. Farmers and small planters
  6. Orchards, forestry, cattle, fishing
  7. Employees in the private sector
  8. Environment, city planning, property development, utilities
  9. Trade, business, medium-sized and small businesses
  10. Large businesses
  11. Large industries
  12. Science, technology, communications, IT
  13. Women
  14. The handicapped, senior citizens, ethnic groups other identity groups
  15. Arts, culture, sports and entertainment
  16. Civil society, public organisations
  17. Mass media, literature
  18. Tourism or services
  19. Professional groups, independent professions
  20. Others

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