Thai junta caught off guard as princess enters PM race

Feb 08, 2019, 5:14 AM EST
(Source: Heraldo en Expo/flickr)
(Source: Heraldo en Expo/flickr)

In a breakaway from the long-standing tradition of Thai royals maintaining a distance from active politics, the sister of Thailand's king, princess Ubolratana Mahidol, will run for the prime minister’s office against the head of the country’s military junta Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The princess’ surprising move to contest elections for the Thai Raksa Chart party, which has close ties with ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, comes as a blow to the military junta, trying to retain its hold over power after it toppled the democratically elected government five years ago, writes the BBC.

Thailand has strict laws in place, which effectively bar any criticism of the royal family. An analyst described the development as a “political earthquake,” which has changed the poll equations completely, catapulting a relatively humble Thai Raksa Chart party to an invariably dominant position, notes The Guardian.

The news of a royal jumping into the fray has set the social media on fire, with excited supporters cheering the 67-year-old princess with #LongLiveSlender and comparing her to fictional female leaders.