Thai Princess Ubolratana Disqualified From Prime Minister Bid In Upcoming Elections

Thailand Elections
Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich, holds up application of candidate for Prime Minister, Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi (Photo: Reuters)

The official list of parties that will have candidates for prime minister in the upcoming Thailand elections was recently released by the country's Election Commission. Absent from the list is one of the more popular candidates, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi. The king's sister has apparently been disqualified from running for prime minister after her brother ordered her name removed from the list.  

King Maha Vajiralongkorn publicly called his sister's bid for the position as "inappropriate," while also citing that members of the royal family should not directly involve themselves in the country's politics. The Election Commission also mirrored the king's statement while adding that the decision was made because of the fact that the royal family should be "above politics."

Princess Ubolratana technically does not hold any royal title as it was previously stripped from her when she married an American citizen in 1972. She later divorced the US national and returned to Thailand in the late 1990s; her formal title was never restored. Despite this fact, Princess Ubolratana is still treated like royalty and is loved by everyone in the country.

The 67-year-old princess was nominated by the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is mostly comprised of loyal supporters of the country's previous Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Despite knowing that she could not run for the position because of her status, Princess Ubolratana still accepted the nomination, breaking a decades-long tradition. Since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, the royal family has made sure that it did not involve any of its members in politics.

The Thai Raksa Chart party did nothing to go against the king's mandate. The pro-Thaksin group released a statement that mentioned that they are fully complying with the king's command. The group also had to cancel all of their upcoming campaign events. Groups that are against the Thai Raksa Chart party's agenda are reportedly considering filing a petition to dissolve the party and to have them banned from joining the upcoming elections in March.

Political experts believe that if the Thai Raksa Chart party is dissolved, the position may go to a candidate of one of the anti-Thaksin affiliated parties. Their move to nominate a member of the royal family could have the opposite effect of what they had originally intended. Parties loyal to the former prime minister have won every election in the country since 2001. However, most of the elected officials from those parties were either removed through legal actions or coups. Thaksin suffered that very fate in 2006. The former prime minister is still in exile as a result of a corruption conviction following his removal as prime minister. 

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