Thai princess makes unprecedented move into politics with run for PM

Thai princess makes unprecedented move into politics with run for PM

Thai princess makes unprecedented move into politics with run for PM

Then just 13 hours later, the king released a late-night statement, known as a royal command, saying Ubolratana's candidacy was "gravely inappropriate" and a violation of the Constitution.

Thailand has some of the most severe lese majeste laws in the world and the king's word is considered final.

On Friday, King Maha criticized his sister's action. How much worse could it get to give a try by supporting the Princess to become the next Prime Minister?

The post did not explicitly state that she was withdrawing her candidacy, and neither did the Thai Raksa Chart party's statement.

They also raise a host of questions about the future of Thaksin and his allies, who have won every election since 2001 only to be thrown out by the courts or military.

The family still remains popular in many areas, especially in the rural northeastern provinces.

News agency AFP noted in a profile of Ubolratana on Friday that her post accepting Thai Raksa Chart's nomination for prime minister candidate featured her wearing a traditional dress from that region.

Princess Ubolratana now does not have the same official standing in Thailand as other members of the royal family.

Ubolratana had given up her royal titles in 1972 after marrying an American. However, she is still very popular in Thailand and is commonly called and treated as a princess.

Her shock entrance into frontline Thai politics was a first by a member of the powerful royal family and promised to reshape the political landscape of the country. What actually had happened behind the scenes is unlikely to become public, because the royal family's private affairs are nearly never leaked.

Princess Ubolratana confirmed her decision to run in a message on Instagram, saying she desires to "lead the country to prosperity".

The princess's move deals a heavy blow to the aspirations of Prayut Chan-O-Cha, the junta head, who has spent almost five years trying to recast the political system to limit the power of elected governments and prepare his own return as a civilian leader.

Prayuth, who led the 2014 military coup that ousted Thailand's last elected government, on Friday also accepted his nomination as candidate for prime minister by the Palang Pracharat Party.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha leaves the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Ubolratana's nomination has electrified the buildup to a March 24 election, which had seemed poised to return the junta and its proxies to power in some form.

"The palace disapproval invalidates her candidacy", said Puangthong Pawakapan, professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University, before the Thai Raksa Chart announcement.

The move looked to rattle the status quo and threaten the ambitions of the junta that has ruled Thailand since it toppled the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra in a 2014 coup.

She maintained that she is contesting the election as a commoner with the rights and freedom given by the constitution and that she had relinquished herself of royal titles.

Allen Hicken is a political scientist at the University of MI who specializes in Southeast Asian studies.

Thaksin's well-funded political machine returned to power twice since and is seen as the key element in arranging for Ubolratana's selection because she cast her lot with a Thaksin-affiliated party. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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