Thai party fighting for survival after gaffe with princess

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BANGKOK, February 13: The Thai political party that took the unprecedented and ultimately unsuccessful step of nominating a member of the royal family as its candidate for prime minister was fighting for its political life Wednesday, while the princess herself appeared to criticize the fallout.
The country’s Election Commission said Wednesday that it recommended the Thai Raksa Chart Party be dissolved because its prime minister candidate
was “in conflict with the system of rule of democracy with king as head of state.” The recommendation was forwarded to the Constitutional Court, which said it would consider Thursday whether to accept the case.
The party on Feb. 8 named Princess Ubolratana Mahidol its candidate for prime minister for the March 24 general election. But King Maha Vajiralongkorn just hours later issued an edict effectively banning the action because it was inappropriate and unconstitutional.
What made Ubolratana’s bid particularly notable was her allying herself with a party that is part of the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is loathed by many royalists and others in the country’s traditional establishment.
The whirlwind events have reignited longstanding political tensions in Thailand, which is still run by a military junta that seized power in a 2014 coup and ousted the government of Thaksin’s sister. Since the coup, the junta had used strict laws against protests and political activity to keep the tension from bubbling to the surface.
Ubolratana, who is active on Instagram with more than 100,000 followers, late Tuesday posted a message reflecting on the events. (AP)