Published On: Fri, Feb 8th, 2019

Thailand princess bid for PM: Could Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya be next leader?

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, 67, is the sister of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and has announced she will stand as prime minister candidate in the upcoming election. The Thai princess will stand for a party allied to controversial ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to registration papers. Thailand’s general election will take place on March 24.

Could Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya be Thailand’s next leader?

Whether the Princess could win Thailand’s general election next month is not clear yet.

However, her party seems to be frontrunners at the moment.

Princess Ubolratana will run for the Thai Raksa Chart Party aligned with populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a 2005 coup.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University said: “This is a profound development that will shape the contours and dynamics of Thai politics before and after the election.

“Thai Raksa Chart is a leading contender now.”

Thai Raksa Chart is an offshoot of Pheu Thai, the latest incarnation of Thaksin’s party that has won every election since 2001.

One of her leading opponents will be Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the military junta.

The election has been viewed as a battle between populists and their allies, and the royalist-military establishment.

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich said: “The party has nominated the princess as its sole candidate.

“She is knowledgeable and is highly suitable.

“I believe there will be no legal problems in terms of her qualification but we have to wait for the Election Commission to endorse her candidacy.”

The unprecedented move into politics breaks with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

After marrying in 1972, the Princess relinquished her royal title and moved to the US.

Following her divorce, she returned to Thailand and has once again begun to participate in royal life – although she never took up her full royal title.

Analysts have suggested the move would have been backed by the new king, whose coronation takes place between May 4 and 6.

Paul Chambers, a politics expert at Thailand’s Naresuan University, told CNN: “This is historical.

“I think that it’s part of a plan by the current sovereign to increase his personal power across the country.

“For him to place his own sister in a position like this… She’s not doing it by herself.

“This would signify that royalty is increasingly intervening in Thai politics today.”

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