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Thailand Senate Election Controversies: Somchai Swangkarn Raises Major Manipulation Concerns

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The upcoming round of Senate elections is stirring up controversy, with caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn raising red flags about potential manipulation. According to Senator Swangkarn, several individuals have been strategically hired to influence the votes, aligning with certain political parties or interest groups. As he reviewed last Sunday’s district-level voting outcomes, he noticed an alarming trend: while some candidates were overwhelmingly favored, others didn’t receive a single vote.

Senator Somchai pointed out a critical loophole in the organic Senate election law, which permits candidates to cast votes for themselves or other candidates. This gap, he alleges, has been exploited by some parties or interest groups, funding individuals to run for election merely to tip the scales in their favor. “It’s a game being played. If we closely monitor the provincial voting on June 16, collusion will become evident. Only those backed by strong parties and interest groups will advance,” he asserted.

Despite acknowledging the existence of genuine candidates, Senator Somchai expressed skepticism about their chances without the backing of well-organized groups. Additionally, he didn’t shy away from criticizing the Election Commission (EC) for not adequately vetting the candidates, suggesting that many had exaggerated their credentials. Furthermore, he condemned the EC for allowing candidates to bring “Sor Wor 3” documents to the voting booths, which he claimed were sometimes marked with voting instructions.

Legally, Senator Somchai can only observe and report potential discrepancies, as only district-level election officials are permitted to file complaints at this stage. “If the EC even did 90% of its job, significant irregularities would come to light,” he stated firmly.

Meanwhile, a senatorial candidate from Mae Hong Son has made waves by alleging that political groups paid several candidates 5,000 baht each just to participate in the race. These candidates, according to him, showed no effort to campaign or even introduce themselves, while political parties strategically placed their candidates across all groups to control the voting process.

On a different note, when posed with questions about the Senate’s stance on the election complaints, caretaker senator Seree Suwanpanont emphasized that any allegations of irregularities must be investigated by the EC. “We’ve heard complaints, but no solid evidence has come forth,” he mentioned. Although some high-profile candidates have been successfully elected by their peers, he noted, a number of well-known names did not progress to the next round.

When it comes to the possibility of the election results being nullified due to the mounting complaints, Senator Seree concluded the situation would only escalate to that level if the Constitutional Court finds the election process in breach of the charter. As the drama unfolds, the eyes of the nation remain fixed on the EC and how it navigates these turbulent waters.

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