Thailand’s Constitutional Court will hold its first hearing today on a petition to ban the Thai Raksa Chart Party before elections scheduled for March 24.
The Thai Election Commission alleges that Thai Raksa Chart (TRC) undermined the constitutional monarchy by nominating Princess Ubol Ratana as a prime ministerial candidate. The Commission will argue that per Thai Royal Command—which differs from Thai law—the royal family must remain politically neutral.
The March 24 vote will be the country’s first since a 2014 coup replaced a government allied with influential former PM Thaksin Shinawatra with a military junta. The election is shaping up as a battle between pro-junta and pro-Thaksin coalitions. Pro-Thaksin red shirts accuse the military of tipping the scale by rushing the case to court before the TRC could offer a defence. Furthermore, the Commission has stalled a case against the pro-junta Palan Pracharath Party for a dubious fundraising dinner it held in December 2018.
While the TRC maintains it nominated the princess in good faith, it is likely that the party will be dissolved when the court hands down its ruling next month, disqualifying all TRC candidates. Pheu Thai will likely fill this electoral void, but the TRC has stated it would challenge any election results, given the setbacks it has already faced. This sets the stage for significant post-election political turbulence—a familiar story in Thailand.
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