Thai Princess Runs for PM
Thai Princess Ubolratana Mahidol announced her candidacy for prime minister on February 8, reports the Borneo Post. She may be competing against the current military-backed prime minister, Prayut Chan-ocha, in a move which dramatically changes the Thai political landscape. Elections will be held on March 24.
According to the Bangkok Post, she will be running with the support of the Thai Raksa Chart party, which has ties to the politically-influential Shinawatra family, including Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, two former PMs ousted by the military on corruption charges that the family claims are politically motivated.
Prayut led the 2014 military coup against the government following months of political crisis, according to CBC. He is a former general and is running with the nomination of the Palang Pracharat Party, a party supported and influenced by the military, says the Bangkok Post.
The contest pits a member of the royal family against the military, which is widely seen as one of Thailand’s most royalist institutions, explains CBC. The Shinawatra family had been regarded as opponents of the royal family by some royalists, but Ubolratana’s support challenges this narrative, offering renewed credibility to the party among royalists.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn declared that it is against the spirit of the constitution for a member of the royal family to hold political office, reports the Bangkok Post. Although by law Ubolratana is no longer a member of the royal family, she still performs some royal duties. Prayut’s party has also questioned the legality of Ubolratana’s candidacy.
Adding to the constitutional issues are laws forbidding criticism of the royal family. According to the Borneo Post, it is unclear whether these laws include Ubolratana in their protection and how they may affect her campaign.