A Thai princess has been banned from standing in elections next month three days after she announced her candidacy.
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi has been disqualified from standing for the Thai Raksa Chart party in the 24 March ballot by the country’s election commission.
The sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn shocked Thailand on Friday when she announced she would be a candidate.
The 67-year-old princess, the eldest child of Thailand’s beloved late king Bhumibol Adulyadej, has starred in several soap operas and films.
She would have become the first member of the Thai royal family, which has always kept itself above politics, to enter the fray.
But her hopes were quickly dashed by her brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who declared later that day that her candidacy was “inappropriate” and unconstitutional.
The word of the monarch carries much weight in Thailand, where the royal family is revered as semi-divine, and it was no surprise that election officials chose to endorse his view.
The Thai Raksa Chart party, which she was planning to run for, is loyal to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies have won every national election since 2001.
The populist party is attempting to defeat Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of Thailand’s military junta, in the polls.
By nominating Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, it was hoping to tap into the pro-royal sentiment of the people.
Whilst its plan has been foiled, it may still benefit, according to Anusorn Unno, dean of the faculty of sociology and anthropology at Thammasat University.
“For Thai Raksa Chart supporters, this has created more sympathy to the party … These would see the party as a victim in this situation,” he said.
But he warned that Thaksin’s opponents are also likely to be motivated by what they will see as an attempt to manipulate the monarchy.
It will be the first election since a pro-royalist military coup in 2014 overthrew the remnants of a government that had been led by Thaksin’s sister Yingluck.