Princess’s run for PM shocks Thai politicians

Thai Princess Ubolratana Mahidol waves to Thai people outside Grand Palace in Bangkok , Thailand.  (AP Photo)
Thai Princess Ubolratana Mahidol waves to Thai people outside Grand Palace in Bangkok , Thailand. (AP Photo)
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The older sister of the king of Thailand said yesterday she will run for prime minister in elections next month, upending the palace’s decades-long tradition of eschewing politics and setting up a surprise contest with the leading military-backed candidate.

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Princess Ubolratana Mahidol’s nomination by the opposition Thai Raksa Chart Party marks a shock realignment of Thai politics. The party is linked to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who hardcore royalists have dismissed as opposed in spirit to the monarchy. The nomination pits the princess against current prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the preferred candidate of the military, considered one of Thailand’s most royalist institutions. Prayuth led the 2014 coup that ousted Thailand’s last elected government.