Princess Ubolratana’s brief stint in politics is now safely in the past. The Election Commission (EC) on Monday disqualified her prime ministerial candidacy, nominated by the Thai Raksa Chart (TRC) Party, following a royal message issued by His Majesty the King on Friday night.
The reversal of the most stunning political event in recent memory leaves much to clean up. The top priority should be the fate of the TRC and those who were behind the attempt to nominate the princess.
This problem of handling the TRC goes first to the EC. The seven-man board dealt on Monday with the immediate issue efficiently and properly. It considered every nomination by every party of their candidates for prime minister.
In all, 45 officially recognised parties nominated a total of 70 men and women as possible prime ministers. The EC approved 69, and officially rejected the candidacy of the TRC’s only nominee, the princess.
If anything, the EC – and probably other bodies – will face demands and requests to make Solomonic decisions. The EC has trod on firm ground, following exactly the relevant parts of the 2016 constitution, the Election Act and assorted organic laws, all of them untested until now. But now it gets tough.
From almost the moment the TRC executives announced their disastrous nomination of the princess on Friday morning, the demands began for punishment. Paiboon Nititawan, the staunch royalist leader of the People Reform Party, called on the EC to consider dissolving the TRC.
That party, he claimed, had clearly breached the 2018 Political Parties Act with its nomination of a royal personage. Mr Paiboon was first, but far from alone in his demand for punitive action by the EC.
Thai Raksa Chart leaders quickly and clearly recognised their error and possible crime. They have violated tradition and also have clearly stepped over the sometimes fuzzy line of political decency. There are laws that could be used by the EC and the Constitutional Court to dissolve the TRC.
An important point beyond the letter of the law is its spirit. The constitution, the election law and the very existence of the EC all are to serve the people, and give them a full choice of candidates.The EC must remember it is not judicial office, nor is it a place to seek retribution. It has no duty to the regime, but only to every Thai voter. It is not a body of retribution.