Thailand’s Election Commission confirmed on Wednesday that it had decided to recommend the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart party. It first appeared that it had delivered another blow to the new Thai Raksa Chart political party yesterday when it was reported in established Thai newspapers and respected news outlets that it had voted to refer the party to the Thai courts for dissolution. The party, linked to ex Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, nominated Thai Princess Ubolratana as its candidate for Prime Minister in the current Thai General Election last Friday. Following strong intervention on Friday night from Thailand’s monarchy through a statement on the Royal Gazette, that nomination has now been withdrawn and set aside. It is reported that the move to dissolve the party falls under the strict provisions of Thailand’s Constitution and electoral laws which prohibit involving the country’s revered monarchy in politics.
Thailand’s Election Commission today finally confirmed that it had recommended the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart party. The Election Commission President Itthiporn Boonprakong stated on Tuesday that the commission is still debating the issue. Today the move was finally confirmed. The matter will now be referred to the Thai Constitutional Court for adjudication. If the party is disbanded, it will leave its General Election candidates withdrawn from the democratic process. The dramatic nomination of Thailand’s Princess Ubolratana, the elder sister of the Thai King, on Friday last and the strongly worded statement that followed that night have stunned Thai people across the country. This has left the newly formed party, linked with ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, which was riding high prior to Friday morning, decimated. Ironically, the controversy has brought about bolstered confidence in the exiting Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha who has led the country through nearly five years of relative political stability.
Officials for Thailand’s Thai Raksa Chart party last Friday as they submitted their nomination of Thailand’s much loved Princess Ubolratana as Prime Minister. The move sparked shock across the country and a highly unusual, significant and decisive intervention by Thailand’s King on Friday night.
Today the Election Commission confirmed that was taking action against the party.
It has decided to refer the Thai Raksa Chart party to Thailand’s Constitutional Court for dissolution under Thai law.
Just five days after a move which turned Thai politics upside down, the Thai Raksa Chart party could be facing dissolution.
The Thai Election Commission met today and confirmed a recommendation that the party be dissolved. The matter will now be passed on to Thailand’s Constitutional Court to adjudicate on the matter in due course.
It follows just 48 hours since the election commission set aside the nomination of the Thai King’s elder sister, Princess Ubolratana, which was dramatically submitted by an executive of Thai Raksa Chart at the commission’s office last Friday.
The Thai Raksa Chart party is one of a number of political parties that have been linked to Thailand’s ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra who has shown himself, in the past few days, to still be a force in Thai politics.
Decision to refer the Thai Raksa Chart party to the Constitutional Court relies on legal provisions
The decision was confirmed today by the powerful electoral to refer the party to the Constitutional Court. It is believed that the move today by the election commission refers to provisions of the 2018 Political Parties Act.
The official nomination of the Thai princess on Friday morning last and the strongly worded statement by the Thai monarch on Friday evening left the party clearly in legal jeopardy.
Section 92 of the Political Parties Act, passed in 2018, to set the stage for Thailand’s return to democracy, provides for the dissolution of a political party where it acts in a manner that could be construed as hostile to Thailand’s status as a constitutional monarchy.
This is clearly a matter now for the Thai courts to decide and the Election Commission has exercised its judgment that the actions of the Thai Raksa Chart party on Friday warrant its consideration under the laws and constitutional provisions provided.
On Saturday, after the royal announcement, made formally through Thailand’s Royal Gazette, the party leadership of Thai Raksa Chart expressed loyalty and acceptance of the statement.
If Thai Raksa Chart is disbanded its executives could be banned from politics while all candidates would be withdrawn from the election immediately
The commission has now pressed ahead with the ultimate sanction and the Thai Constitutional Court must decide whether or not the Thai Raksa Chart party should be dissolved.
This would mean that the executives of that party would be prohibited from being involved in Thai politics either for life or a minimum period of 10 years. The disbandment of the newly formed party could also mean that its candidates will be removed from the General Election currently underway.
This could mean effectively that these politicians will be removed from this election process altogether as Thailand’s strict electoral laws specify that a candidate for election must be a member of a political party for at least 90 days
New Thai Raksa Chart party in disarray
In the aftermath of the Thai King’s statement on Friday night, the headquarters of the Thai Raksa Chart party on Saturday was quiet and sombre. Campaigning was suspended. Today, the party leader Preechapol Pongpanich, arrived at the Laksi head office just after 1 pm this afternoon to attempt to galvanize the party back into action for the election campaign.
It comes with reports of confusion, resignations and a fear of what the future holds for the new party which, up to last Friday, looked as if it was riding a wave of public support together with other parties associated with Thaksin Shinawatra including the former ruling Pheu Thai party.
‘I would like to say that all of us acted with sincerity and the good intention of seeing the nation move in a good direction for the future good of the people,’ the party leader told a press posse of reporters and cameramen this afternoon.
Mr Pongpanich was adamant also that the party had not violated the constitution and legal provisions governing the election. He told reporters he was, in fact, unworried about the strong speculation that the party would be dissolved following today’s meeting convened by Thailand’s election commission.
Prospects of current PM Prayut Chan ocha look better after last week’s dramatic turn of events
The fallout from last Friday has ironically boosted the candidacy of current Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha for the top job. The last four days have highlighted the need for stable politics in Thailand. The current Prime Minister and many ministers did not comment directly on events since Friday.
The elimination of the Thai Raksa Chart party would, if it went ahead, be a huge blow by a loose alliance of parties attempting to garner 376 out of 500 parliamentary seats after the election to elect an opposition Prime Minister.
It must also be remembered that the former ruling Pheu Thai party was placed under investigation by Thailand’s election commission for links to ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra last year.
Despite everything, however, the former ruling party still leads in most election opinion polls.
Thai monarchy is Thailand’s anchor of stability
The move on Friday to nominate Princess Ubolratana as its sole Prime Ministerial candidate for the election has now left the Thai Raksa Chart party without any Prime Ministerial candidate and also facing the possibility of dissolution.
It has also created a sense of insecurity among many Thais even including supporters of the party and the politics of Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, also a former Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
The Thai monarchy is the anchor of the Thai nation including all people across the political spectrum. The formal and official statement by the Thai King on Friday night, 8th February 2018, left the actions of the new political party open to charges that it had contravened Thai law and long-standing constitutional principles.
Leader of People Reform Party made a good call
It has prompted a chorus of voices from Thai royalist groups and factions to have the party dissolved. A notable voice has been that of Paiboon Nititawan, the leader of the People Reform Party who was quick on Friday morning last to recognize the significance of the move being proposed and called immediately for it to be stopped by the election commission.
He has since called for the election commission to recommend the dissolution of the party. This has now come to pass. Mr Nititawan is a former member of the election commission and also a member of the panel that drafted Thailand’s current constitution.