Thai Princess Announces Surprise Decision to Run for Prime Minister

Thai Princess Announces Surprise Decision to Run for Prime MinisterThai Princess Announces Surprise Decision to Run for Prime Minister
Ryan General
February 8, 2019
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, the elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, has joined the race to become the country’s next prime minister.
As the first member of the royal family to run for the office of PM, Princess Ubolratana’s unprecedented decision is being seen by many as an attempt to reshape the country’s political landscape.

According to Princess Ubolratana, she is exercising her rights as a citizen in representing the Thai Raksa Chart party in Thailand’s election next month.
She is facing the coup leader and head of Thailand’s military junta, Prayut Chan-o-cha on the election scheduled for March 24, The Guardian reports.
While royals have historically intervened in times of political crisis, the Thai monarchy has traditionally stayed out of politics.
Ubolratanai’s party is a known ally to the former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006. It was reportedly created by Thaksin’s Pheu Thai party when the military junta threatened to dissolve it. Ubolratana herself has maintained close ties with the ousted leader.
The eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, the 67-year-old princess relinquished her royal titles and settled in the United States with her husband, Peter Ladd Jensen in 1972. When the couple divorced in 1998, she resumed her royal duties and position within the Thai court.
“I have relinquished my royal titles and lived as a commoner,” Ubolratana wrote in an Instagram post. “I have accepted the Thai Raksa Chart party nomination for the prime minister to show my rights and freedom without any privileges above other fellow Thai citizens under the constitution.”

Chulalongkorn University Institute of Security and International Studies director Thitinan Pongsudhirak has dubbed the announcement as a “profound and unprecedented development” that has “created a political earthquake.”
Before Ubolratana’s announcement, the election had been expected to be a battle between Thaksin’s populists and their allies against the royalist-military establishment.
According to Thitinan, Ubolratana’s candidacy has turned Thai Raksa Chart into the “leading contender for the election now.”
However, Thailand’s king has announced that he does not support his elder sister’s candidacy for prime minster. In an issued a statement on the day of Ubolratana’s announcement, the King deemed her candidacy, “inappropriate…and unconstitutional.”
“Involvement of a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is an act that conflicts with the country’s traditions, customs, and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate,” the King said.
Featured Image via Instagram / princessubolratana
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