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

Former leaders of defunct Thai Raksa Chart to field “Moving Forward for Democracy” campaign

Following the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart, the party that fielded Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi as its candidate for the Prime Minister post in the upcoming 24 Mar election, former members of the Party have announced a “Moving Forward for Democracy” campaign in a bid to prevent the retention of military junta rule in Thailand.

Bloomberg reported on Sat (9 Mar) that Thai Raksa Chart’s former campaign strategist Chaturon Chaisang as saying that the former leaders will “campaign publicly for the full restoration of democracy”, and “will study poll rules to see what is permissible following the party’s break up”.

Pheu Thai, Thailand’s main opposition party, will reportedly not be placing its candidates in all constituencies in a bid to pave way for Thai Raksa Chart’s candidates, which Bloomberg reported as being “part of a strategy to maximize votes” for the allies of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

On Thursday (7 Mar), Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Thaksin Shinawatra-linked opposition party must be dissolved.

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 political 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”.

Previously, Bangkok Post reported that 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, the report added.

Thammasat University vice-rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul told Bangkok Post 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.