A moment of shock for Thailand's military

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A moment of shock for Thailand’s military

Deutsche Welle

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Thailand’s politics is full of unexpected turns and last Friday was no different. Shortly before the deadline, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya announced that she would compete for the position of prime minister for the Thai Raksa Chart party in the March polls. The party is considered close to the Shinawatra family, whose member, Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was overthrown in a coup in May 2014. The head of the family is Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living in exile for many years.

On the same evening, Ubolratana’s brother, King Vajiralingkorn, declared that his sister’s candidacy was invalid, immediately after which the Thai Raksa Chart Party annulled the sensational decision of the princess.

Ubolratana’s announcement was controversial, because it threatened the political control of the country by the military government under prime minister and former general Prayuth Chan-Ocha: The constitution that was adopted by Thailand’s citizens in a referendum in 2017, stipulates that the national assembly can suggest the new prime minister by simple majority. After that, the King only needs to appoint him.

Thwarting the strategy

This serves as a security net for the military. The national assembly has 750 seats altogether, including 250 senators and 500 members. The 500 members will be elected by the people in the end of March. The 250 senators will be determined by a committee appointed by the military government, meaning that military officials will participate in the polls with a lead of 250 seats to determine the new prime minister and the government. Together with the votes of pro-military parties, above all the Palang Pracharat party, there should be enough votes to get the most favored candidate from the military into office.

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