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House of Representatives (Thailand)

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House of Representatives (Thailand)

House of Representatives
สภาผู้แทนราษฎร
Sapha Phu Thaen Ratsadon
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Vacant
Prayuth Chan-ocha (Military)
Since 22 May 2014
Vacant
Structure
Seats 500 MPs
Political groups
Vacant
Elections
Last election
2 February 2014
(nullified)
Next election
TBA
Meeting place
Parliament House of Thailand
Website
www.parliament.go.th
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Thailand

The House of Representatives (Thai: สภาผู้แทนราษฎร; rtgsSapha Phu Thaen Ratsadon) is the lower house of the National Assembly of Thailand, the legislative branch of the Thai government. The system of government of Thailand is that of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The system of the Thai legislative branch was modeled after the Westminster system. The House of Representatives has 500 members: 375 members are democratically elected through single constituency elections, while the other 125 are appointed accordingly through party-list proportional representation. The roles and powers of the House of Representatives have been enshrined in the Constitution of 2007.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Qualification 2
  • Elections 3
  • Term and dissolution 4
  • Membership 5
  • Power and privileges 6
    • Powers 6.1
    • Privileges 6.2
  • Leadership 7
    • Presiding officers 7.1
    • Leader of the Governing Coalition 7.2

History

The House of Representatives was established after the Revolution of 1932, when the Khana Ratsadon (the "People’s Party"), overthrew the absolute monarchy and replaced it with the present system of constitutional monarchy. When King Prajadhipok signed the temporary constitution of 1932, he established the first legislative assembly in Thailand, It was an entirely royally-appointed chamber. The first session of the People’s Assembly was held on June 28, 1932, in the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall. From then on, the House existed in various forms until the present form in 2007:

See more at: Constitutions of Thailand

  • 1946- The 1946 constitution established a fully elected House of Representatives.
  • 1952- Establishment of the unicameral National Assembly with 123 members.
  • 1959- The House was banned by Sarit Dhanarajata.
  • 1968- The House was re-established with 219 members.
  • 1972- The House was banned by Thanom Kittikachorn.
  • 1974- Establishment of the House of Representatives.
  • 1976- Establishment of a unicameral National Assembly with 360 royally-appointed members.
  • 1978- Return of an elected House with 301 members.
  • 1991- Establishment of a unicameral National Assembly with 292 appointed members.
  • 1997- Establishment of a 500 member House of Representatives, 400 directly elected with 100 elected through proportional representation.
  • 2006- Following the coup, an interim charter was signed establishing a 250 member National Legislative Assembly.
  • 2007- Present system established, by referendum under the 2007 Constitution of Thailand.

Qualification

The qualifications to be a candidate for the House of Representatives are outlined in Section 101, Part 2, Chapter 6 of the 2007 Constitution. The candidate must be a citizen of Thailand by birth only. The citizen must be at the age of twenty-five or older on election day and having been born in the province in which he or she intends to stand as a candidate. The candidate must have been a voter and therefore must be on the electoral register for at least five years directly before the election, and he or she must also have a house or have been in public service in the province for five years. The candidate must also have been a member of an educational institution in that province for at least five consecutive years. Politically, a candidate must be a member of one political party for a period of at least ninety days before election day, except in cases of dissolution where thirty days is the minimum period. This is done to discourage party switching before the election. For party list candidates, they must also meet the same qualifications except for the provincial restrictions. They are instead divided in lists based on provincial groups.

Those specifically barred from being candidates are those: addicted to drugs, declared bankrupt, unable to vote (see voter eligibility below), a former convicted felon (the individual must wait for five years after release to become eligible), removed from public service for being corrupt or incompetent, had assets confiscated due to embezzlement and finally, the individual must not be a member of the government or civil service, Senate, local administrations, member of the judiciary or other independent agencies.

Elections

The House of Representatives has 500 members. 375 members are directly elected in single constituency elections by first-past-the-post voting. The 375 constituencies are divided by population according to the census and tambons. The other 125 members are voted based on ‘proportional representation’ it is actually in truth a parallel voting system or more precisely the Mixed Member Majoritarian system (MMM). In Thai general elections, voters have two votes: one to select the member of parliament for their constituencies and the second to choose which party they prefer. Seats are assigned to parties as a result through the d'Hondt method.

In accordance with the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, a general election must be held every 4 years. Dissolution can happen anytime, which is done by the King with the advice of the prime minister through the use of the royal decree. Elections are held under universal suffrage; every voter must be a citizen of Thailand, if not by birth then by being a citizen for 5 years. The voter must be over 18 years old before the year the election is held. Voting in elections are also mandatory as missing an election will result in the loss of the right to be involved in political activities. Those barred from voting in House elections are members of the clergy, those suspended from the privilege for various reasons, detainees under legal or court orders and being of unsound mind or of mental infirmity.

Term and dissolution

The term of the House of Representatives is exactly four years from the previous election day. Upon the expiration of the House, the King will issue a decree calling for a general election of the House, in which the date of the election must be announced. This must be done within forty days of the expiration. The date of the election must be the same for the entire Kingdom.

The King holds the royal prerogative to dissolve the House before its expiration. When this happens a royal decree is issued where the election date is announced; this must be done in no less than forty days and not more than sixty days from the date of the dissolution. The reasons and circumstances of a dissolution can be made only once.

Membership

Members of the House of Representatives are generally called Members of Parliament or MPs (Thai: สมาชิกสภาผู้แทนราษฎร or ส.ส.). The membership of the House of Representatives commences on election day. If there is a vacancy in the membership of the House, and it was not due to expiration or dissolution, it must be re-occupied. Vacancies may occur due to death, resignation, conviction and/or expulsion (only by a parliamentary party through a 3/4 majority vote). If the vacancy is of a constituency member then an election must be held within forty days of the vacancy, unless it is less than 180 days of the present term of the House remains, then the vacancy can remain.

In the case where the vacancy is made by a proportional representative member, the vacancy will be filled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives by submitting the name of the next candidate in the party list (submitted on election day) to be published in the Royal Gazette. This must be done within seven days. If no name is to be found then the vacancy can remain unfilled. Members of the House who have filled a vacancy under either of these procedures can only remain in the House for the remainder of its present term.

Power and privileges

Powers

According to the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, the House of Representatives is granted many powers, most of them are shared with Senate of Thailand. These common powers are:

  • Legislation
  • Scrutiny
  • Passing of annual appropriations bills
  • Constitutional amendments

Exclusive powers:

  • Primary legislative chamber.
  • Creating and appointing committees to examine bills.
  • Power to call ministers to account (by appearing in the chamber and answering questions)
  • Removal of the prime minister through a "vote of no confidence" (more than 1/5 to vote for a debate, and a simple majority for removal).
  • Removal of ministers (more than 1/6 to vote for a debate, and a simple majority for removal).
  • Selection of its officers.
  • Expulsion of members
  • Determination of its own rules and procedures.

Privileges

No member of the House can be arrested, detained, or summoned by a warrant for an inquiry as the suspect in a criminal case unless permission of the House of which he or she is a member is obtained or he or she is arrested in flagrante delicto.

Leadership

Presiding officers

The executive committee of House of Representatives consists of one speaker and two deputy speakers to be its presiding officers. The Speaker of the House is also the ex officio President of the National Assembly of Thailand. The election is done by a secret ballot in the first session; after a resolution is passed; the elected will be formally approved by the King. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers of the House cannot be members of the cabinet or any political party executive committee. The speaker and his deputies are not entitled to represent partisan interests and must exercise their powers on a non-partisan basis.

Leader of the Governing Coalition

The Constitution stipulates that the Prime Minister and the Ministers must be former members of the House of Representatives. After the first session, the House must vote in a

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