CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Dismissal of Thai PM bid increases likelihood of project review in agriculture, real estate; large-scale unrest unlikely

12 February 2019
Srisuwan Janya, the secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, submits a petition to the Election Commission to investigate the Thai Raksa Chart Party for nominating Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as its candidate for the premiership in Bangkok on 11 February 2019. Source: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Military presence has been expected to increase across Thailand, with protests being heavily monitored by security forces; risks of access denial or business area blockade remain low.
  • The palace's public dismissal of Princess Ubolratana Mahidol's premiership bid is a significant political defeat for Thaksin Shinawatra, Pheu Thai (PT), and its affiliated parties; it can also incite anti-Thaksin sentiment and factional differences in the PT, which would benefit pro-establishment parties.
  • Projects approved by the PT or companies, more likely in the agriculture and real estate sectors, linked to the Shinawatra family continue to face heightened risk of regulatory and legal discrimination from independent regulatory authorities.

Event

The Thai Raksa Chart Party's unsuccessful attempt to challenge the prime minister is a significant political defeat for Thaksin Shinawatra's political camp and may invite retribution from the political establishment.

On 8 February, the Thai Raksa Chart Party submitted its nomination of Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, the eldest child of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and sister of King Vajiralongkorn, as a candidate for the premiership. The Thai Raksa Chart Party is a proxy party of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who holds overwhelming influence and support among Pheu Thai (PT) members. The princess accepted the nomination, saying that she would "like to exercise [her] right and [her] freedom as a commoner under the constitution". The princess renounced her royal status after marrying a US national in 1972.

Later, on the same day, the palace issued a royal command, announcing that the princess "maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty", despite renouncing her official royal titles, and that to contest in politics would be "extremely inappropriate" and unconstitutional. The next day, the princess and the Thai Raksa Chart Party issued statements respecting the king's decision. The Election Commission subsequently disqualified her candidacy, and the Thai Raksa Chart Party is reportedly seeking a royal pardon over its selection of a royal family member as a candidate for the premiership.

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