Thai princess to contest for Prime Minister

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Thailand’s Princess Ubolratana Mahidol reassured on Friday that she is constitutionally a commoner who has decided to run for prime minister in the March 24 election.

She will run under the tickets of Thai Raksa Chart (Thais protect country) Party in competition against incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also accepted the nomination as candidate for prime minister under the banners of Palang Pracharath (Power of People’s State) Party, as well as former prime minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, among others.

This is the first time a royal has run for top civilian office in Thailand.

The princess gave reassurances on her Instagram page that she has taken the rights and freedom of a commoner, “without any privileges above other fellow Thai citizens under the constitution,” to accept nomination as a candidate for prime minister.

On the same day, the Thai Raksa Chart also confirmed the princess is a commoner and is fully eligible to run for the prime minister position.

Thai Raksa Chart Party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit submitted to the Election Commission the name of the Princess as the party’s only candidate for prime minister. The polling agency is scheduled to officially announce the names of all electoral candidates, including those for the post-election prime minister, on February 15.

“The board agrees that the name of Princess Ubolratana, an educated and skilled person, is the most suitable choice,” Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich told reporters.

Ubolratana, 67, is the eldest child of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

According to the Palace rules, Ubolratana has become a commoner since she was divested of royal titles following her marriage to an American in 1972, which is reconfirmed by Ubolratana on Friday.

She returned to Thailand in 2001 from the U.S. after her divorce and has since regularly taken part in charity, social welfare and health-promoting events as well as anti-drug campaigns for youths.

Thai Raksa Chart Party is primarily viewed as an affiliate of the once-ruling Pheu (for) Thai Party. Many of Thai Raksa Chart Party members and electoral candidates had belonged to Pheu Thai Party over the past several years.

Both parties are known to remain loyal to former Prime Ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra, who has been residing in self-exile overseas.

The Princess’s involvement potentially builds a bridge between Thaksin’s “Red” shirted supporters and the “Yellow” shirts who are arch royalists.

The general election for Thais to elect members of parliament will be held on March 24, the first since the 2014 coup during which the National Council for Peace and Order came into power.

A total of 500 elected members of parliament and 250 senators selected by the ruling National Council for Peace and Order would jointly vote to choose the new prime minister

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