Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya placed a bid to run for prime minister, but was denied by the Electoral Commission


Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya

Jessica Polito

Last week, Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya announced her bid for Thai Prime Minister, but was quickly disqualified by the Electoral Commission. The Commission explained their reasoning with a statement that the “monarchy must remain above politics.” Her disqualification came after her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, spoke out saying, “To involve a high-level member of the royal family in politics, directly or indirectly, is against royal traditions, norms and the national culture.” He also stated that it’s “extremely inappropriate” for Rajakanya to run.

Many are surprised that Rajakanya’s bid was denied, as she no longer has an official royal status. After marrying American Peter Jensen in 1972, her royal status was given up. After divorcing Jensen in 2001, she did however return to Thailand and become active in royal life again. One student, senior, Donny Sauer, argues that she “should not have been barred from running” and that “if she was bad for the country, the people should have been allowed to vote against her.”

Aside from feeling surprised, many Thai citizens are frustrated that she was denied the chance to run. They were angry because she was set to be the sole candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party. This party is new, and controlled by the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Since losing power in 2006 due to a military coup, he was charged with corruption and has lived in exile. Though exiled, Shinawatra has still influenced Thai politics. Rajakanya’s bid was a chance for his party to retain control of the Thai government.

Thailand is currently a constitutional monarchy, which means that the prime minister is the head of government and the monarch is the head of state. As citizens push for democracy, the military regime continues to hinder that progress. Over the last 5 years, the regime has done many things to anger the citizens pushing for democracy such as suppressing the freedom of speech, imprisoning critics, and not being accountable or transparent to the public. Senior, Connor O’Meara explains that he personally believes that “barring someone from running for prime minister on the grounds of it violating tradition ignores the reality that the people of Thailand want to see change in the way their government is run.” With the upcoming election on March 24, many citizens fear that the election determines whether democracy or authoritarian rule will be Thailand’s future.