Major political families expected to sweep many senate seats

BANGKOK: The national Senate elections will be held on Wednesday (June 26) at Impact Forum, Muang Thong Thani. The incoming senators will be chosen from the 3,000 candidates - including 2,164 men and 836 women - who have advanced to this final level.

A review of the list of Senate candidates from across the country, excluding Bangkok shows that the majority, about 70%, are neither prominent figures nor politicians.

However, analysts point out that many Senate candidates are part of the major political families network, and will thus assume the role of voters for the candidates positioned as nominees.

Yingcheep Atchanont, the manager of the Internet for People's Law Project (iLaw), which is driving the campaign for People’s Senators, summarised the situation on Facebook: “... In reality, the major political families use a method of sweeping the entire province. That is, when they send people to different districts, the goal is not to elect just one or two people for themselves but to elect their entire team of 40 people, who then enter from the same household across the province.”

The term “major political families” doesn’t refer to just one family but includes the Red House, Blue House, Forest House, Energy House, Orange House, and others.

In the final stretch before reaching Muang Thong Thani, Yingcheep analysed, “... Today, it’s still unclear which families have formed alliances because ultimately, only 200 people will become Senators. If multiple families can't agree on the final quotas, uncertainty remains.”

It is believed that on the last night before the election, the new list of 200 Senators from the major political families will need to be finalised. If any mistakes occur, independent candidates might slip through.

The Red House network is the most talked about, as its Senate candidates include former Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers.

Looking at the list of Senate candidates across 20 groups, the Red House has many notable politicians, among them Somchai Wongsawat, former Prime Minister (Chiang Mai); Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, former Deputy Prime Minister (Samut Songkhram); Srimuang Charoensiri, former two-term senator of Maha Sarakham (Maha Sarakham); Manop Charatdamnit, former MP of Si Sa Ket, Pheu Thai Party; Kusumawadee Sirikomut, former MP of Maha Sarakham, Pheu Thai Party.

The Blue Hous is also widely discussed, especially for its Senate candidates from the Northeastern, Central, and Southern regions. Key candidates from the Blue House include former high-ranking officials and local political networks.

Among the national Senate candidates, there are not many veteran national politicians, and some do not belong to any political family.

The iLaw People's Senator campaign and the Progressive Movement's 1 Family 1 Senator campaign have aimed to encourage public participation in the Senate elections.

The more people apply, the more likely they can break the major political families' vote blocking, they pointed out. In the end, over 40,000 people across the country applied for the Senate, falling short of the 100,000 target estimated by iLaw and the Progressive Movement.

However, some democratic Senate candidates have advanced to the national level. They are:

Surachai Trongngam, lawyer and Secretary-General of the Environmental Law Foundation (Bangkok)

Phichit Likitkitsomboon, a former economics professor at Thammasat University (Bangkok)

Lae Dilokwitayarat, labour academician (Bangkok)

Supaporn Asadamongkoln, women's rights activist (Bangkok)

Suthep Suriyamongkol, OctDem group member and president of Dome Unity Group (Bangkok)

Angkhana Neelapaijit, former National Human Rights Commission member (Bangkok)

Achara Ashayagachat, former senior reporter (Bangkok)

Nantana Nuntawaropas, Dean of the College of Political Communication, Krirk University (Bangkok)

Arunee Sritho, labour leader (Samut Prakan)

Nuchanart Thaenthong, advisor to the Four Regions Slum Network (Samut Prakan)

Praphas Pintobdang, political science academician (Nakhon Pathom)

Banchong Nasae, advisor to the Thai Sea Conservation Association (Songkhla)

Hatairat Phonlthep, editor of Isaan Record (Nong Bua Lamphu)

Tewarit Maneechai, editor of Prachatai News (Samut Songkhram)

Pratheep Khongsip, former Voice TV director (Phetchabun)

Sriphai Nonsri, labour leader (Pathum Thani)

Thatchaphong Kaedam, leader of the Democratic Restoration Group (Pathum Thani)

Whether these proposed Senators can break through the major political families barriers to enter the upper house is unknown but political experts estimate that the democratic Senators will secure no more than 20 seats.

The iLaw team’s assessment of the overall picture for democratic Senators and the Orange House Senators suggests that they are unlikely to reach the goal of 67 seats, as Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had previously targeted. - The Nation/ANN

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Thailand , senate , election


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