10 things you need to know about Thailand’s election
The countdown to the May 14 general election is well underway with a little over a month left before the big day.
The election was called after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dissolved the House of Representatives on March 20 – just three days before the Lower House completed its four-year term.
Here are 10 things to know about the upcoming national vote:
How many eligible voters?
There are a total of 52,287,045 eligible voters – 25,136,051 men and 27,150,994 women.
To be eligible to vote, citizens must be at least 18 years old on election day.
Those not entitled to vote include monks, prisoners, and people with serious mental disabilities, and those penalized with a voting ban.
Two-ballot system returns
Voters will each get two ballot papers – one to mark their favourite constituency candidate and the other for their favourite political party. Only one ballot was used in the previous election of March 2019.
The two-ballot system was first used in Thailand in the 2001 general election. The electoral law of 2018 adopted a single-ballot system, but an amendment last year restored the two ballots.
Two groups of MPs
The House of Representatives will still have 500 elected MPs, as was the case after the previous election. But the composition will change.
There will be 400 MPs from constituencies and 100 from the party-list system, compared to 350 and 150 respectively from the previous election.
An MP for every 162,766 residents
The Election Commission calculated that each MP should represent an average of 162,766 residents. The figure was derived by dividing Thailand’s population of 65,106,481 (as of December 31, 2022) by the 400 single-MP constituencies.
In its March announcement on the drawing of constituency boundaries, the agency allowed a deviation of no more than 10% from the average number of residents for each constituency. An exception was made for cases where adjacent communities must be included in the same constituency to facilitate voting.
Calculating party-list MPs
As there are 100 party-list MPs, the total number of valid party-list votes cast in the upcoming election will be divided by 100 to get the minimum number of votes each party needs to win a list-MP seat.
Based on the last general election, when 35 million valid ballots were cast, the contesting parties will need to get at least 350,000 votes to win a party-list MP seat.
At the last national vote, only about 70,000 votes were sufficient to win a list-MP seat since votes cast were divided by 500 – the total number of MPs.
Prohibited by law on election day
Thailand’s election law bans the following:
- Selling or distributing alcoholic drinks or hosting drinking sessions from 6pm on the day before the election until the end of election day
- Buying or selling votes
- Preventing eligible voters from casting their ballots
- Providing free transport for eligible voters to voting stations
- Intentionally damaging a ballot paper
- Taking a photo of a marked ballot paper
- Taking a ballot paper out of a polling place
- Releasing opinion survey results in the seven days up to the close of voting on election day
Bangkok has largest number of MPs
Due to its population of 5.4 million, Bangkok has 33 MP seats – more than any other of Thailand’s 77 provinces.
Next highest number of seats belongs to Nakhon Ratchasima with 16 constituencies, followed by Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani, with 11 each. These three provinces are in the Northeast, the country’s most populated region.
Five provinces have 10 MPs each – Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, and Buri Ram.
Si Sa Ket and Songkhla have nine MPs, followed by Nonthaburi, Roi Et, Samut Prakan and Surin with eight each.
Provinces with seven MPs comprise Chiang Rai, Chaiyaphum, Pathum Thani, Sakon Nakhon, and Surat Thani. Those with six MPs are Kalasin, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun, and Maha Sarakham.
Nine provinces have five MPs, eight have four MPs, 21 have three MPs, 10 have two MPs, and four have one each.
The four least populated provinces with only a single MP are Trat, Ranong, Samut Songkhram, and Sing Buri.
Five generations of voters
Eligible voters span five distinctive generations. Generation X (43-58 years old) accounts for the largest proportion with 30.87% of eligible voters. Next comes Gen Y (27-42) with 28.87% followed by Baby Boomers (59-77) with 22.64%.
Generation Z (18-26) accounts for a significant but smaller proportion or 12.78% of the electorate, and is followed by the Silent Generation (78 to 98) with just 2.23 million voters or 4.84%.
Isaan has a third of all constituency MPs
The Northeast, or Isaan, accounts for about one-third of the Thai population with 21.8 million residents. The region’s 20 provinces have a total of 133 MP seats – about one-third of all 400 constituency MPs and the highest among Thai regions.
Isaan is followed by the Central region, which has 22 provinces including Bangkok and a total of 122 MP seats.
The 14 provinces of the South have 60 MP seats. The nine northern provinces have 37 MP seats, while seven eastern provinces have 29 seats, and five western provinces have 19 seats.
When will the result be announced?
The unofficial result should be known by 10pm on May 14, according to the Election Commission. It said reporting of the vote counts from each constituency should be faster than during the 2019 election.
The law requires that official election results of at least 95% of the constituencies be announced no later than 60 days after the voting day.
By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk