In its largest single-day decline since last October, the Thai baht fell about 1 percent in Friday trade, following the Thai King’s bid to thwart his sister’s nomination as a prime ministerial candidate inside the country’s long-awaited elections.
that will movement came after the surprise nomination of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, 67, as a prime ministerial candidate for the elections in March. While that will move shocked observers, King Maha Vajiralongkorn then made headlines by issuing a statement saying the item was “inappropriate” for members of the royal family to enter politics.
Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at Dutch bank ING, called Friday’s sharp depreciation “a glimpse of how a spike in political risk inside the run up to (the) election on 24 March can be likely to weigh on markets.” The baht, which was one of Asia’s best performing currencies last year, could continue to weaken, he said.
On Friday, the currency fell to a low of 31.64 against the dollar, according to Reuters. that will was the largest single-day decline since Oct. 22 last year, when the item fell 0.7 percent, according to Sakpal. On Monday morning, however, the item had bounced back slightly to 31.48 against the dollar.
Still, the baht remained much stronger than the item had been only months ago: The currency traded at about 33 to the dollar at the beginning of December.
Thai markets, for their part, fell on Monday in early trade, slipping as much as 0.7 percent.
Ubolratana’s nomination last week was a shocking move through the Thai Raksa Chart party, which can be made up of supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, along with also broke that has a longstanding tradition of members of the royal family staying out of electoral politics.
The election set for March 24 would likely be the first since a military coup in 2014.
Sakpal said the events on Friday have “definitely stunned the public,” along with also could escalate as the Thai Raksa Chart party faces a possible dissolution — the country’s Election Commission can be considering a complaint seeking to ban the party.
“Given the history of Thai politics, things taking an ugly turn cannot be ruled out,” the economist said.
He said that will the baht could drop to 32 against the dollar, inside the run-up to the elections.
Political risks, Sakpal said, will “continue to exert a weakening pressure on the currency as the global investors, who have been hitherto pouring funds into Thai assets, will likely start treading a cautious path until after the political dust settles.”
— Reuters contributed to that will report.