11 July 2024

The Constitutional Court this afternoon ordered the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart Party dissolved as a punishment for its failed nomination of Princess Ubolratna, a member of the Royal Family, as its prime minister candidate in the March-24 general election.

The court ruled that Thai Raksa Chart’s nomination of the princess was an act that undermines the democratic system under the constitutional monarchy.  It said the monarchy has traditionally and constitutionally been above politics and dismissed the party’s argument that it followed democratic principle in nominating the princess as its prime minister candidate.

The verdict also disfranchised the rights of the executives of the party to run in elections and to be involved in setting up political parties for 10 years.

The ruling will also result in all the party’s candidates in the election being disqualified and all of its executives, including its leader Preechaphol Pongpanich.

The Constitutional Court delivered the ruling amid extraordinarily tight security. Hundreds of journalists and cameramen covered the reading of the verdict from outside the courtroom in which only representatives of the Election Commission and Thai Raksa Chart Party were allowed.

The ruling comes as a major blow to the political camp supported by self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  Thai Raksa Chart is an off-shoot of Pheu Thai, the former ruling party.  It was set up as part of a grand strategy allegedly orchestrated by Thaksin to secure seats in the upcoming election in constituencies vacated by Pheu Thai.

Thai Raksa Chart dropped a political bomb shell on February 8 when it unveiled Princess Ubolratna as its prime minister candidate.  But the political stunt was short-lived as it was snubbed the same night by a Royal Command issued by HM the King which described it as “highly inappropriate”.

A complaint against Thai Raksa Chart was later filed with the Election Commission which ruled that the party breached the Political Parties Act by engaging in an undertaking considered hostile to the democratic system under the constitutional monarchy.  The Election Commission subsequently asked the Constitutional Court to consider dissolving the party as a punishment.

Thai Raksa Chart contested the case, insisting that it did nothing legally wrong because it was Princess Ubolratna’s own wish to be nominated as its prime minister candidate.  It also questioned the Election Commission’s decision to have it dissolved without listening to its defence.

The party submitted a list of 19 defence witnesses to the court. The court, however, decided to rule on the case without holding any hearings on the grounds that it had enough convincing evidence