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Thai Princess disqualified from running for PM post

13 February, 2019, 13:06 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Livening things up Nomination of Princess Ubolratana as prime ministerial candidate has transformed what could have been a dull campaign

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich holds up an application of candidate for Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, at the election commission office in Bangkok, Thailand, on February 8, 2019.

The political career of Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi lasted only three days, but in that time her declaration that she would be a candidate for prime minister in a March election shook up the kingdom.

A chastened Thai Raksa Chart, a key pillar in the election strategy of billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, swiftly agreed to comply with the command. There are 69 names, including that of current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, on the list.

This was considered a shocking move as it broke a longstanding tradition of members of the royal family staying outside politics.

On Friday, King Vajiralongkorn denounced his sister Princess Ubolratana Mahidol's unprecedented bid for political power as inappropriate.

The polling agency quoted Friday's Royal Announcement issued by King Maha Vajiralongkorn as commenting that all members of the Royal Household be constitutionally and traditionally bound to be uninvolved in politics and be neutral to it.

Ubolratana's candidacy had initially been accepted by the Commission because she had formally relinquished her royal titles in 1972 following her marriage to an American, technically leaving her free to run in the election.

Bloomberg observed that "the move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn's sister shocked a nation where top royals are officially treated with semi-divine status and protected by strict lèse-majesté laws that shield them from criticism".

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The much-anticipated election is set for March 24 and will be the first since a 2014 coup.

The panel did not mention a separate petition seeking to ban Thai Raksa Chart on the grounds that it violated election laws against using the monarchy in campaigning.

An Election Commission official said it is reviewing all candidate applications and will finish the process this week, though few expect it to divert from the royal order.

That day, Princess Ubolratana thanked people for their support in an Instagram message, writing: "I wish to see Thailand move forward to be admired and accepted by the worldwide community".

For now, we maintain Thailand's Short-Term Political Risk Index score of 70.2 (out of 100), of which social stability remains the weakest sub-component at 57.5, but we will be looking to revise it lower should we see clearer indications of downside risks materialising.

The takeover resulted in the installation of a junta intent on eradicating the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies have won every national election since 2001.

Thai Raksa Chart on Saturday hastily issued a statement declaring its loyalty to the king and acceptance of his order, though it was technically too late to withdraw Ubolratana's candidacy.

"Things are now more unpredictable", Titipol told Reuters.

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