Princess Ubolratana's brief stint in politics is now safely in the past. The Election Commission (EC) on Monday disqualified her prime ministerial candidacy, nominated by the Thai Raksa Chart (TRC) Party, following a royal message issued by His Majesty the King on Friday night.
The reversal of the most stunning political event in recent memory leaves much to clean up. The top priority should be the fate of the TRC and those who were behind the attempt to nominate the princess.
This problem of handling the TRC goes first to the EC. The seven-man board dealt on Monday with the immediate issue efficiently and properly. It considered every nomination by every party of their candidates for prime minister.
In all, 45 officially recognised parties nominated a total of 70 men and women as possible prime ministers. The EC approved 69, and officially rejected the candidacy of the TRC’s only nominee, the princess.
If anything, the EC — and probably other bodies — will face demands and requests to make Solomonic decisions. The EC has trod on firm ground, following exactly the relevant parts of the 2016 constitution, the Election Act and assorted organic laws, all of them untested until now. But now it gets tough.
From almost the moment the TRC executives announced their disastrous nomination of the princess on Friday morning, the demands began for punishment. Paiboon Nititawan, the staunch royalist leader of the People Reform Party, called on the EC to consider dissolving the TRC.
That party, he claimed, had clearly breached the 2018 Political Parties Act with its nomination of a royal personage. Mr Paiboon was first, but far from alone in his demand for punitive action by the EC.
Thai Raksa Chart leaders quickly and clearly recognised their error and possible crime. They have violated tradition and also have clearly stepped over the sometimes fuzzy line of political decency. There are laws that could be used by the EC and the Constitutional Court to dissolve the TRC.
There also are laws, however, that serve the other issue at stake.
The TRC is a spinoff from the main Pheu Thai Party, whose founder and grassroots base are well known. The initial purpose of Thai Raksa Chart, before its leaders stepped so far out of bounds, was to attract voters, elect MPs and help to form a government. While this is an obvious statement, it is vital to future considerations.
An important point beyond the letter of the law is its spirit. The constitution, the election law and the very existence of the EC all are to serve the people, give them a full choice of candidates, and allow them to decide who should serve in the democratically elected House of Representatives after May.
The EC must remember it is not judicial office, nor is it a place to seek retribution. It has no duty to the regime, but only to every Thai voter. It is not a body of retribution, but a servant of the great national society.
Dissolving Thai Raksa Chart will deprive close to 150 election candidates. A significant number of party supporters — voters — will have to choose elsewhere.
The EC’s decision is far from easy, but the spirit of the law demands it must try to preserve the mostly good parts of the TRC and jettison the rest.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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