02/08/2019, 10.55
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Thai princess to run in first post-coup elections

Traditionally, the monarch's family abstained from politics. Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the eldest daughter of the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej. She is a candidate in the ranks of a party loyal to the Yingluck Shinawatra family, overthrown by the military in 2014. Observer: "She can count on great popular support".

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - In an unprecedented move In Thailand’s political history, the king's sister joined the race to become the next prime minister of the country: Princess Ubolratana Mahidol (photo), 67, will be the only candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart Party in the elections next March 24th.

The party announced her candidacy, putting an end to the rumors circulated in recent days.

The princess's decision breaks with the tradition of the Thai royal family, which had always remained outside the political life of the country.

Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the eldest daughter of the late king of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej; she is one year older than his successor, King Maha Vajiralongkorn. After marrying a US citizen in 1972, she renounced the royal title and moved to the United States. After the divorce, the princess returned to Thailand and resumed participation in royal life.

On January 23rd, King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a royal decree to hold the first general elections since the military overthrew the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra in May five years ago. The princess will run for the party loyal to the still influential Shinawatra family, who for years dominated the Thai political scene. The current prime minister of the country and former head of the army, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has also announced today that he will run as a candidate for the pro-military Palang Pracharat.

An observer of Thai politics, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told AsiaNews: "The local newspapers did not give much prominence to the news concerning the candidacy of the princess. There are numerous people who have applied for the upcoming elections and the confusion is great. Nevertheless, I believe that the princess can count on great popular support, since the Thai are still very attached to the royal family and have deep respect for the monarchy ".

About a month and a half away from the elections, citizens do not seem to be involved in the election campaign. "At the moment, I have to say that there is a widespread climate of indifference. Intellectuals and the more affluent sections of the population show a greater participation. This semi-dictatorship, which is drawing to an end, has annoyed many, partly because Thai people are very pragmatic and they know that such a regime damages business, tourism and public image. There is a perceptible desire for change, people want democracy".

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