(Bloomberg) — Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha slipped to the second position in an opinion poll as the number of undecided voters shrunk amid speculation of an early general election.
Prayuth, the coup leader-turned-premier, got 12.7% votes in a March 10-15 survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, known as Nida. That’s down from 16.9% in December and his lowest rating in the four quarterly surveys done by the institute, it said a statement on Sunday.
Pita Limcharoenrat, a leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, led the list with 13.4% of the popularity vote.
The number of undecided participants stood at 27.6%, down from 36.5% in December.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former opposition premier Thaksin Shinawatra and a leader of the largest opposition party Pheu Thai, Sudarat Keyuraphan, a former premier candidate, and Sereepisuth Temeeyaves of the Seri Ruam Thai Party were among the other preferred candidates in the Nida survey.
Thai political parties have stepped up campaigns and outreach programs in recent months in anticipation that the general elections may be called before the end of Prayuth’s four-year term in March next year. That’s because public resentment is swelling against his administration’s handling of the pandemic and soaring inflation.
Prayuth’s government is committed to ensuring the benefit of all sections of the society, through various measures, to lessen the impact of high energy prices stemming from the Russian war in Ukraine and the pandemic, spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said in a statement Sunday. The nation’s fiscal position is stable and strong, he said, adding that the government is ready to take additional steps to contain inflation.
An early test of the popularity of various political parties may come from the Bangkok gubernatorial elections, the first since 2013, to be held on May 22.
Pheu Thai, a party linked to Thaksin, was the choice of 25.9% of the respondents, with Move Forward Party coming second with 16.2% and the Democratic Party polling 7.97% votes. Palang Pracharath, the largest party in Prayuth’s coalition government, came fifth with 7.03% votes.
Still, 28.8% of the survey participants were neutral, or didn’t support any political party, according to Nida’s nationwide survey of 2,020 people of 18 years of age and above. The poll has a margin of error of 3%, Nida said.
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