Thailand's Election Commission (EC)on Tuesday endorsed 74 appointed senators, 13 days before voters elect the other 76 senators to fill the 150-seat Senate (or Upper House).
The EC on Tuesday announced the full list of the 74 appointees, who have been selected by an EC-appointed seven-member panel.
According to the new 2007 Constitution, the Senate is composed of 150 members, 76 of which will be directly elected by voters nationwide, one for each of the 76 provinces, while the remaining 74 will be appointed by a selection panel after professional groups submit nominations of candidates.
News network The Nation earlier on Tuesday quoted EC commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham as saying that if there are complaints against the endorsed candidates, the EC will consult with the selection panel again whether to revoke the endorsement.
The election of the other 76 senators is scheduled on March 2.
A latest survey by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University has indicated a low turnout for the senatorial election because of poorer public awareness despite campaigns by the EC.
Only 29 percent of the interviewees had knowledge about the upcoming election, while 57 percent said they had "scant knowledge", and 12 percent of respondents admitted they knew nothing of it.
The poll also showed only 18 percent said they would cast their ballot, while about 38 percent were not sure if they would vote.
The 74 appointees and the 76 electees will form the first Senate under the 2007 Constitution, which was drafted by a junta-appointed drafting committee and passed a national referendum last August after a military coup ousted the former government led by Thaksin Shinawatra and abolished the 1997 Constitution.
Under the new Constitution, a senator serves a six-year term.
In Thailand, which is run under a constitutional monarchy, the Senate and the House of Representatives constitutes a bicameral legislative system. Legislative bills are first submitted to the House of Representatives then passed on to the Senate for examination. The Senate has no right to propose a legislation, but can propose amendments to the bills.
The non-partisan Senate is also authorized to supervise the government's work, mainly by appointing "independent bodies" like Election Commission, National Counter Corruption Commission and judges at the Constitutional Court, and questioning the cabinet on policies. In certain circumstances it can also dismiss the Prime Minister, other cabinet members and judges.