Thai PM slips in opinion poll, rival pulls ahead as election looms

By Reuters   March 19, 2023 | 10:54 pm PT
Thai PM slips in opinion poll, rival pulls ahead as election looms
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks to members of media at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, March 20, 2023. Photo by Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha fell behind his main election rival, daughter of popular billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra in a new opinion poll, as the nation awaited the dissolution of parliament ahead of elections.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra's support jumped 10 points to 38.2% in a survey conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) published at the weekend, while Prayuth trailed in third place with 15.65%.

Thailand is expected to hold an election in May, which will continue a long-running political battle between the Shinawatra family and conservative pro-military establishment.

Thailand's Royal Gazette would announce the dissolution of parliament later on Monday, Deputy Prime Minster Wissanu Krea-ngam said. An election must take place between 45 and 60 days of dissolution.

Prayuth, who has been in power since staging a coup against the last Shinawatra government in 2014, shrugged off the latest survey result.

"Poll is a poll. It depends on what the people want ... it should not damage the country - that is most important for the next government," Prayuth told reporters on Monday.

"I want to do my best," he added.

Paetongtarn, 36, better known locally by her nickname "Ung Ing" is one of the nominees for prime minister for the Pheu Thai party, which together with its previous incarnations has won every Thai election since 2001.

The NIDA Poll, which surveyed 2,000 voters across Thailand in March, also showed that nearly 50% of respondents said they would back parliamentary candidates from Pheu Thai.

Paetongtarn on Friday said she was confident of winning the election by a landslide, with the aim of averting any political maneuvering against her party, which has previously been removed from office by judicial rulings and military coups.

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