In what looks like a Thaksin Shinawatra masterstroke, the junta now has a real challenger
Call it Thaksin’s revenge. The shock announcement on Friday that a senior royal is running for prime minister has electrified Thai politics. It is a shot in the arm for a moribund democracy suffocated by authoritarian rule. It wrecks the traditional separation of crown and government. And it means next month’s election may prove a genuine contest, not merely a joyless coronation of Prayut Chan-o-cha, leader of the military junta.
Yet most telling is the fact that the nomination of Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, was put forward by the Thai Raksa Chart party. The party is closely allied to Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, both former prime ministers ousted in military coups in 2006 and 2014 respectively, the latter led by Prayut.