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The Princess and politics

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Tulsathit Taptim

The Nation, Thailand

Just a few days ago, opportunist parties in Thai politics had great options and were keeping them open. The strategy was to wait and see before opting to join the camp backing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha or the opposition led by the Pheu Thai and Thai Raksa Chart parties.

All that changed in one dramatic day.

Thai Raksa Chart's move to nominate Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya as its candidate for prime minister was doomed by a royal command from the King.

At the same time, the tide also turned for medium-sized parties. In theory, they can still join the Pheu Thai-led alliance; in practice, they would have to be very bold to do so.

A princess spearheading a grassroots uprising is, after all, the stuff of fairy tales. In reality, and especially in the context of Thai politics, there is more to fear than ferocious dragons or giant catapults hurling fiery stones. And unlike bedtime stories, Thai politics spares no one.

Students preparing for the arrival of Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya on Thursday in Phichit Pittayakom school in Phichit Province. Thailand's Election Commission has dropped Princess Ubolratana from a list of nominees for prime minister for next month's election. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Had she gone on to become prime minister, the romance would likely have evaporated quickly. Her special status may have become progressively glaring, particularly when placed next to that of the political party she represented.

Her nomination was always fraught with strategic risk. Even if she had been able to continue as a prime minister candidate, the original idea of having Pheu Thai sweep constituency elections and Thai Raksa Chart gather a sizeable number of "losing" votes, to claim House seats under the new proportional system, could have gone disastrously wrong.

In a fairy tale, a princess lost in the wilderness will eventually make a triumphant return. Those who harboured ill intentions against her will either be conquered or admit their mistake and re-pledge loyalty.

In Thai politics, Princess Ubolratana........

© The Straits Times