Thailand’s Senate election and the plan to impeach Yingluck
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Thailand’s Senate election and the plan to impeach Yingluck

Senate elections have always had a relatively low turn-out – 55.61% in 2008 compared with around 75% turn-out in 2007 and 2011 for the lower House elections – but we had an even lower turn-out for Sunday’s Senate election. Below are details as of Monday, March 31 per Matichon for the Senate election:

  • No of Voters: 48,787,153
  • Turn-out: 20,873,423 (42.78%)
  • Valid votes (i.e for political parties): 17,290,896 (82.84%)
  • Spoilt votes: 1,086,184 (5.20%)
  • Vote no/none of the above: 2,496,341 (11.96%)

In contrast with the February 2, 2014 general election:

  • No of Voters: 43,024,786
  • Turn-out: 20,530,359 (47.72%)
  • Valid votes (i.e for political parties): 14,645,812 (71.34%)
  • Spoilt votes: 2,458,461 (11.97%)
  • Vote no/none of the above: 3,426,080 (16.69%)

BP: So the actual number of voters who turned out was slightly higher for the Senate election, but as a % it was 5% lower (difference in number of eligible voters is because of the disruptions on February 2 meant voting was not held completely in 28 constituencies and disrupted partly in others so the actual number of people who could vote was almost 6 million lower). Given the consternation over the legitimacy given turn-out was less than 50% for the February 2 election, will these people question the legitimacy now if the Senate removes Yingluck and/or votes in a new PM…..

Top three provinces in regards to turn-out, with turn-out figures for February 2 in parenthesis:

  • Lamphun 68.39% (Feb 2: 73.39%)
  • Mae Hong Song 67.54% (Feb 2: 64.99%)
  • Prachinburi 61.1% (Feb 2: 50.07%)

Bottom three provinces in regards to turn-out are:

  • Chonburi 24.99% (Feb 2: 27.57%)
  • Prachuab Kirikan 27.03% (Feb 2: 20.05%)
  • Bangkok 28.61% (Feb 2: 25.94%)

BP: Full list and voting figures for winning candidates – as of Sunday evening – can be found at Thai Rath here (Thai only) or this graphic from the Bangkok Post in English here.

Matichon has a breakdown for the North and you can clearly see candidates with Puea Thai or Thai Rak Thai links winning although obviously in the South those candidates with close ties to the Democrats won; but overall analysis so far is that the government did quite well for the Senate election with Nation Group putting the government (this would include coalition partners) getting 40 seats, opposition 16, and 21 being independent as per below graphic:

This is reflected by a statement by a Group of 40 Senator (a group of mostly Appointed anti-government Senators) per The Nation :

Key anti-government Senator Paiboon Nititawan has expressed concerns over the unofficial results. Meanwhile, former Nonthaburi senator Direk Teungfung, who is seen as having sided with the Pheu Thai-led government, said the election is the right way to select senators, adding that he thought it went well.

Appointed Senator Paiboon – who has joined in the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) movement, and who is also a key member of the so-called Group of 40 Senators – yesterday said that appointing a “neutral PM” and impeaching political officeholders looked more difficult now that the new group of senators-elect seemed to be dominated by candidates with connections to Pheu Thai and the government coalition.

Paiboon said it appeared that there were only about a dozen or so senators-elect that his group would be able to talk to and do business with.

BP: It is a dual complication. One having enough votes (three-fifths) to impeach Yingluck and then finding an appropriate candidate to vote for PM. BP  imagines consideration for this will be done in tandem as they would then want to move quickly on any vote for a “neutral” PM.

Post Today a few days ago stated in their analysis over problems in impeaching Nikom [Senate Speaker who is facing impeachment] and Yingluck. They state one problem is who will take up the case. If it is the current crop of Senator [ie before March 30] then giving the time for impeachment inquiry until the vote we may have a new crop [i.e including the 77 Elected Senators or most of them] by the time of the vote. The current acting Senator Speaker Surachai [a favorite of the PDRC] expressed concern whether this was appropriate given there will be those who vote who weren’t part of the inquiry process from the beginning and that it would be inappropriate for them to vote ( “ถ้านำการพิจารณาคดีของศาลมาเทียบเคียง จะถือว่าการดำเนินการดังกล่าวไม่มีความเหมาะสมเท่าไรนัก เพราะการพิจารณาของศาลมีอยู่ว่า ถ้าบุคคลใดไม่ได้อยู่ในกระบวนการไต่สวนตั้งแต่ต้น ก็ย่อมไม่เป็นการสมควรที่จะมาวินิจฉัยคดีในขั้นตอนสุดท้าย”). Therefore, the new crop may request that the Senate delay the start of proceedings until they are in place [i.e. EC needs to endorse them and this will take some time ].

BP: Then late last night it was announced that the Senate would meet on April 18 over the impeachment of Nikom and for other business. Given this, the impeachment of Nikom may provide a test of how strong the anti-government vote is and whether they can get to three-fifths needed for impeachment. You can see things are still moving slowly and they would have to at least start with impeachment of Nikom first and that this will at least slow down the impeachment of Yingluck too. Because of the delays and *possible* difficulty in impeaching Yingluck, alternatives are being suggested, namely removing her and Cabinet from office over the Thawil transfer (more on that in another post) with a suggestion from anti-government Senators that we can go straight to the Court and they will remove Yingluck this week……

In theory, this should also push both sides towards a compromise with newspaper editorials talking about need for both sides to negotiate, but there are no good indications of any actual progress yet in behind-the-scenes negotiations.