THAILAND
Parliamentary Chamber: Saphaphuthan Ratsadon

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2001

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Chamber:
  Saphaphuthan Ratsadon


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  6 January 2001


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all seats in the House of Representatives on the normal expiry of the members' term of office


Background and outcome of elections:

  In the 6 January 2001 poll the 500 seats in the House of Representatives were at stake. The 1997 Constitution increased the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 392 to 500.

The 1997 constitutional reform was also designed to clean up politics. Before this reform, vote-buying was common, especially in some areas where campaign literature was openly handed out with money attached and candidates passed out food and other goods to attract voters. Four candidates were disqualified before the elections for vote-buying.

More than 2,700 candidates from 37 parties were vying for the 500 seats.

The vote count was marred by violent protests at several ballot-counting centres, the worst such incidents occurring in a constituency in the South, where demonstrators reportedly tried to set fire to the house of the winning candidate who was running on a Democratic Party ticket (the party of outgoing Prime Minister Chuan Lee-pai). An election commissioner stated that in several areas, protests were started by people who had bet enormous amounts on the elections.

Voters also complained about the confusing ballot format, where voters had to place a cross against specific numbers assigned to each candidate.

Local officials counting the votes reported that 10% of ballots for constituency candidates were invalid, and widespread complaints of vote-buying and other reports of election fraud led the Election Commission to schedule revotes in 62 of the 400 constituencies. Eight of 62 invalidated winners were not allowed to contest the run-offs. A total of 33 of these 62 were candidates of the new Thai Rak Thai (Thai Love Thai) prty.

With the results for 338 constituencies verified, Thai Rak Thai won 176 seats, while its closest rival, the Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai won 90 seats.

In the second round held on 29 January 2001, the Electoral Commission's main concern was that candidates might resort to fraud again as they no longer feared punishment from the Election Commission because of the time limit established in the Constitution. According to the Constitution, a full House of Representatives must be ready to convene within one month of the initial election date. This time constraint meant the Commission would not be able to hold a third round of voting even if it gathered widespread evidence of fraud in the second round.

Final results gave Thai Rak Thai 248 seats in the new House of Representatives. This party subsequently formed a coalition with the New Aspiration Party, led by Mr Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, which had won 36 seats, and the Chart Thai Party, led by Mr Banharrn Silpa-archa, which had obtained 40 seats. Both leaders had served as Prime Ministers in coalition governments in power from 1995 to 1997.

The largest opposition party in the new legislature is the Democratic Party, which took 128 seats.

The newly elected House of Representatives convened for the first time on 4 February 2001 in a ceremony presided by King Bhumibol, and elected Mr Uthai Pimchaichon from Thai Rak Thai as its new Speaker. On 9 February 2001, the House of Representatives elected Mr Thaksin of Thai Rak Thai as Prime Minister and he appointed his new Cabinet a few days later.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (6 January 2001): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 42 759 001
Voters 29 909 271 (70 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 2 992 081
Valid votes 26 917 190

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Proportional Majority
Thai Rak Thai (TRT) 248 48 200
Democratic Party (DP) 128 31 97
Chart Thai 41 6 35
New Aspiration Party (NAP) 36 8 28
Chart Patthana 29 7 22
Liberal Democratic 14 0 14
Party of the people 2 0 2
Social Action 1 0 1
Thai Motherland 1 0 1

Comments:
  There are 14 seats vacant

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 444
Women: 42
Percent of women: 8.64

Distribution of seats according to age:  
21 to 30 years 19
31 to 40 years 101
41 to 50 years 193
51 to 60 years 101
61 to 70 years 63
Over 70 years 9


Distribution of seats according to profession:

 
Politicians 198
Business/Trade/Industry 74
Civil servants (incl. former) 60
Self-employed 36
Legal professions 24
Political officers 24
Teachers 14
Farmers 7
Medical professions 6
Private sector employees 6
Police 4
Executives 3
Engineers 2
Journalists/writers/publishers 2
Bankers 2
Military 1
Social workers 1
University Professors 1
Others 21


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Copyright 2001 Inter-Parliamentary Union