Thailand. Ahead of the March elections, the country’s prime minister, as well as military junta leader Prayuth Chanocha, announced his candidacy for the prime minister’s post. At the same time, opposition party Thai Raksa Chart announced that former Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya would be running for it. Ubolratana Rajakanya renounced his royal title in connection with a US marriage in 1972, but later moved back to Thailand.
Shortly after her candidacy was published, she received sharp criticism from her brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who said it was very inappropriate for a royal to enter politics. The criticism was approved by the Election Commission which disqualified her candidacy.
In March, Thai Raksa Chart was also disqualified since the Constitutional Court decided to dissolve it. According to the court, the party had broken the electoral law by appointing Ubolratana Rajakanya as the prime ministerial candidate.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of THA in general and in geography as Thailand in particular.
On March 24, elections were held in Thailand, which was the first time since the 2014 military coup. The election was between two blocs – the parties supporting the military junta and those supporting the opposition. The former have the most supporters among royalists and the urban middle class, while the opposition parties have the most voters in the countryside.
Since the military junta itself appoints all 250 seats in the Senate, according to a constitutional change made after the military coup, the opposition’s chances of winning the election were small.
In May, the Maha Vajiralong barley, with the regent name Rama X, was formally crowned at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. He has been the king of the country since his father Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in 2016. However, the coronation ceremony has had to wait with regard to a grief period for the former king. In connection with the coronation, Maha Vajiralongkorn married the Deputy Chief of the King’s personal bodyguard Suthida Tidjai. The wedding was the fourth for the nearly 70-year-old king.
Only after the coronation ceremony could an official election result be presented. According to media, 27 parties entered Parliament’s lower house – the House of Representatives. Of these, For Thailand with 136 seats and the military-supported People’s State Power Party with 116 seats were the largest. The third largest party was the opposition party New Future, which received 81 seats.
According to media, of the House of Representatives’ 500 seats, a total of 245 seats were granted to Thailand and its support parties. Since neither of the blocs could secure a majority, both sides claimed government.
The result, however, meant that the People’s State Power Party, with 250 loyal senators, only needed an additional ten seats from other members of the House of Representatives when a total of 376 votes were required to form a government.
In June, Parliament’s two chambers elected Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn gave his approval to the government in July under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. At the same time, media reported that the King was appointed Minister of Defense.
In November, in the province of Yala in southern Thailand, 15 people were killed in an attack on a security check. The attack, which was suspected to have been carried out by Muslim separatists, was described as one of the most violent in several years in southern Thailand.
Corona eruption on the market
Authorities are closing and blocking the country’s largest seafood market in Mahachai outside Bangkok. An outbreak of the coronavirus has been traced to the market where a seller tested positive for covid-19 on 17 December. Extensive infection tracking and mass testing means that more than 1000 cases of covid-19 can be linked to the market. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha blames the virus outbreak on Myanmar migrant workers working without permits at trawlers and in factories in the Thai shrimp industry. Thailand was the first country after China to document a case of the new coronavirus, but since then only just over 4,000 residents have tested positive with covid-19 and 60 have died (before the outbreak in Mahachai).
Tourists welcome again
Thailand decides to allow tourists from 56 countries to holiday in the country provided they have been tested negative for covid-19 and accept a fourteen-day quarantine before entry. Thailand’s economy has suffered severely from the deadlock in global tourism and is now in a recession (that is, the economy has shrunk for two consecutive quarters).
Prayut Chan-o-cha is acquitted by the Constitutional Court
A high-profile trial of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ends with the Constitutional Court acquitting him of suspicions of a conflict of interest with the post of prime minister. Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was previously a general, has remained in a residence belonging to the army, despite leaving the military in 2014. The court finds that the residence formally became a kind of inn in 2012 and therefore was technically no longer military. If Prayut Chan-o-cha had been convicted, he would have been forced to resign as Prime Minister. The indictment against the Prime Minister was carried out by the opposition party For Thailand, and the acquittal arouses angry feelings among many protesters, who want to see a shift in the post of Prime Minister. Prayut Chan-o-cha justifies his residence by saying that his family must be protected by the military.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Thailand in 2019 was 69,625,471, ranking number 20 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.280% yearly, and the population density was 136.2829 people per km2.