The party’s act, the election commission said, was “in opposition of the constitutional monarchy.”
The commission planned to file its complaint later Wednesday to the constitutional court, the only authority that has the right to dissolve a political party. The court will make its decision based on an article in Thai law that forbids the “sabotage” of Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, a system that since 1932 has made the monarch the head of state and the prime minister the head of government.
The election commission opened an investigation into the Thai Raksa Chart party’s actions just a day before making its recommendation. At a brief news conference Wednesday at their party headquarters, Thai Raksa Chart leaders said they were “confused” by the pace of investigation and why the decision was made so quickly.
Party leaders added that they received no prior notice of the election commission’s recommendations and instead found out from media reports.
“We did not want this to happen,” said Preechapol Pongpanich, the leader of the party. “But we're sincere about what we've done.” Preechapol is a former member of parliament from Thaksin’s Pheu Thai party.
Parties linked to Thaksin have won every election in Thailand since 2001, but the ousted prime minister lives outside the country after fleeing corruption charges. His main party, Pheu Thai, has faced the threat of dissolution for some time since the country’s military junta ordered an investigation into whether he still controlled the party. Relatives and allies set up new parties as an insurance option and a political strategy to win more seats.
The Thai Raksa Chart party took an extraordinary political risk on Friday when it put forward Ubolratana as its candidate. Her candidacy, if allowed by Thai authorities, would have marked an unprecedented turning point for Thaksin and his allies, who have been accused of being anti-monarchy in a country where the royal family is deeply revered. It would also have marked the first time that a member of the royal family was directly involved in politics.
Instead, within hours, the princess’s brother, King Vajiralongkorn, declared her candidacy “extremely inappropriate” and unconstitutional. On Monday, the election commission excluded Ubolratana from its list of candidates, marking the end of her political aspirations.
In a post on her popular, private Instagram account, Ubolratana expressed her disappointment at the decision — her first comments since her candidacy was nullified.
“I feel sorry that my sincere intention to work for the country and Thai people created problems that shouldn’t happen in this era,” she said.
Ubolratana ended her post with the hashtag #howcomeitsthewayitis.
The constitutional court said in a statement it has accepted the election commission’s request and will make its decision by Thursday afternoon. Lawyers for the party said they will present their case before the constitution court, asking “for their mercy and justice.”
“We’ll ask for the chance for Thai Raksa Chart to defend itself and prove that we did not do anything wrong,” said Surachai Chinchai, a legal adviser to the party. “We are confident in the fairness of the court and the judicial system.”
Preechapol said at the news conference that it was too early to comment on what Thai Raksa Chart’s members would do if the party were dissolved.
“We must wait for [the court’s] process,” he said. “Now, we must continue our election campaign to give confidence to our candidates and the people.”
Preechapol said he hoped to resume campaigning by next week.
Mahtani reported from Hong Kong.