Thai Raksa Chart Party leader Preechapol Pongpanich (C) performs a traditional Thai greeting to journalists during an interview after the Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the party. Source: EPA-EFE PHOTO

Thai court dissolves Thai Raksa Chart party over Princess Ubolratana’s candidacy; Party supporters to field ‘Vote No’ campaign

In the aftermath of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi’s nomination by the Thai Raksa Chart party for the Prime Minister post in the upcoming election, Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled on the dissolution of the Thaksin Shinawatra-linked party on Thursday (7 Mar).

The ruling, which is final and binding, was delivered at the court “amid 1,000-strong security in a 500m radius”, according to Bangkok Post.

The panel of judges stated in their ruling that the Party’s decision to nominate Princess Ubolratana was “hostile to the democracy with a constitutional monarchy” by involving “a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in a way which the average Thai can see that the monarchy – which is viewed with utmost respect and is at the heart of the nation – had been used to gain political advantage”.

Bangkok Post reported that “almost all constitutions stipulated the king and the royal family of the ranks of mom chao or higher must be politically neutral”, and that the entry of a royal family into politics “undermines the rule … which could lead to the end of the institution”.

In addition to the Party being dissolved, the Court had also imposed a 10-year ban on Thai Raksa Chart’s executives.

Princess Ubolratana had apologised on her Instagram account the same day Thai Raksa Chart was dissolved, stating that her “honest intention to work for the country and the Thai people have caused problems that shouldn’t have occurred in this era”, and that the Party’s dissolution was “very sad and depressing”.

Thai Raksa Chart supporters to plan a “Vote No” campaign in the aftermath of party dissolution

Speaking to reporters regarding the dissolution, party leader Preechapol Pongpanit said: “It’s not just the party that was dissolved … The basic rights of the people were also affected.”

“Even though we can’t achieve our dream, I thank you all for your support. There is more work to do for this country, and those who are here will keep on working,” The Straits Times reported him as saying.

In the aftermath of the dissolution, Thai Raksa Chart supporters are seeking to launch a “vote no” campaign in order ensure the number of “no” votes will be higher than the number of votes gained by winning candidates in the relevant constituencies.

Should the campaign succeed, it will potentially result in the annulment of the voting results as stipulated by the constitution, which will subsequently force the Election Commission to hold a brand new election, Bangkok Post reported.

Civil unrest, support for pro-junta candidates unlikely despite dissolution: Thai political analysts

While Thailand’s political landscape over the past ten years has been characterised by turmoil, resulting in a series of street demonstrations, Rangsit University political scientist Wanwichit Boonprong, however, told ST that he does not foresee protests in the aftermath of Thai Raksa Chart’s dissolution”, as this year is “an auspicious year for Thai people”.

“No one will go on to the street,” he added.

Bangkok Post reported Thammasat University vice-rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul as saying a day prior to the court ruling that a dissolution is “unlikely to change the political landscape”, as it is unlikely that Thai Raksa Chart’s supporters would turn over to pro-regime candidates and subsequently uphold a military junta rule such as that under current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.