A new poll confirms that the country’s largest and main opposition party will, barring an extraordinary upset or unforeseen circumstances, form the next Thai government after the General Election poll scheduled for May 7th. The poll coincides with increasing signs that the public has become disaffected with the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and particularly with the Palang Pracharat and Bhumjaithai parties which appear to be facing an electoral wipeout.
Ahead of the expected dissolution of the House of Representatives next week and the start of a short General Election campaign up to May 7th 2023, the country’s leading opinion poll suggests that Thailand’s largest party has growing momentum in public support to elect a new government with a resounding majority and sweep away the current political firmament. The poll shows particularly strong personal support for the daughter of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra, with a striking 67.25% of voters opting for both the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party with Pheu Thai, itself, at this stage, commanding the support of nearly half the electorate. The poll spells very bad news for both the Palang Pracharat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party, the latter appearing to suffer due to the party’s support for the deeply unpopular government since 2019 and its controversial policy on marijuana or cannabis.
A respected National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) opinion poll published on Sunday confirms reports over the last two weeks from the unofficial election campaign trail that the opposition Pheu Thai Party and its popular figurehead Paetongtarn Shinawatra or ‘Ung Ing’, the daughter of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has captured the hearts of Thai voters even before the campaign starting gun goes off next week when Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha is expected to dissolve the House of Representatives and call a General Election in the kingdom provisionally scheduled to be held on May 7th next.
Over the weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, the leader of the Palang Pracharat Party which is in freefall in the opinion polls, explained away a low turnout at a campaign speech in Chiang Mai where 10,000 people had been expected by attributing it to the threat of a storm and the weather.
The poll figures, however, give a truer picture of the storm which is developing among the electorate.
Bad news for Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on the trail as he fails to make the cut in terms of the public’s preference or choice for next PM
General Prawit, despite weeks of campaigning and speculative reports in the media that he may emerge as kingmaker, had insufficient public support to place him in the top 10 when it comes to the public’s choice for prime minister as the poll found that, he was among approximately a dozen political figures who shared only 3.35% support between them.
The deputy prime minister, who has been in power since the 2014 coup, warned last week that he knew the unwritten power structure in Thailand and suggested clearly that those who may wish to initiate another coup are still to be found among its ranks.
Expressed, admittedly, in the context of offering himself as a mediator and facilitator, the online comments by General Prawit should nevertheless be read as both accurate and a word of caution for any potential radical change of power later in the summer.
Not yet enough public enthusiasm for the potential alternative Pheu Thai PM choice Srettha Thavisin, the voting public clearly supports Ms Paetongtarn
Significantly, however, among the group with a lower individual support score in the choice for prime minister among the public was 59-year-old property tycoon Srettha Thavisin who many analysts believe may ultimately take the top job if, as now looks likely, Pheu Thai manages to form a government after the General Election.
35-year-old Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra, much like her aunt, Thailand’s first female prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, is seen by the higher echelons of Thai society as lacking experience and seniority, a key value in the deeply traditional country.
Mr Srettha is currently being touted along with Ms Paetongtarn who is currently campaigning while pregnant with her second child, as a potential Pheu Thai Party nominee for the prime minister’s seat and has already rejected the prospect of a cabinet role.
The poll shows clearly that if he does take the top job, it may not be a popular move among core voters and supporters of the Pheu Thai Party which was ousted from power by the coup in 2014.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra has a commanding lead on 38.2% support followed by both Pita Limjaroenrat and incumbent Prayut Chan ocha, each with under 16%
The poll showed Ms Paetongtarn leading the race with a massive 38.2% of voters supporting her as the next Thai prime minister followed by Mr Pita Limjaroenrat, the popular Bangkok-based leader of the Move Forward Party. He commanded 15.75% support.
Just behind, in third place with his own solid support base across Thailand, is the current prime minister and leader of the 2014 coup d’état, General Prayut Chan ocha on 15.65%.
The table shows the public’s choice for prime minister as:
1 Paetongtarn Shinawatra – 38.20%
2 Pita Limjaroenrat – 15.75%
3 Prayut Chan ocha – 15.65%
4 Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan – 5.10%
5 Police Lieutenant General Sereepisuth Temeeyaves – 4.45%
6 Jurin Laksanawisit – 2.35%
8 Dr Cholnan Srikaew – 1.6%
9 Anutin Charnvirakul – 1.55%
Based on voting intentions across political parties which in this election are predicted to translate more effectively into seats in parliament, the poll showed both the Pheu Thai Party and the more progressive Move Forward Party leading the field with a combined 67.25% between them when it comes to constituency voting for the 400 seat House of Representatives and an almost identical vote share among voters for the party list system which will elect 100 MPs on a pro-rata basis in the election contest. The combined votes for the parties here was 67%.
The poll was carried out within the last week with a sample of 2,000 respondents which mirrored the population’s demographics across the kingdom’s provinces and appears to be in line with the recent results of regional NIDA polls and reportedly, internal polls conducted by the Pheu Thai Party which show the party’s support well ahead of expectations in central Thailand, Bangkok and the South.
In terms of preferences, at this stage, based on intended voting, the party tables are as follows:
1 Pheu Thai Party – 49.75%
2 Move Forward Party – 17.40%
3 United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) – 11.75%
4 Thai Sang Thai Party – 2.95%
5 Bhumjaithai Party – 2.7%
6 Seri Ruam Thai Party – 2.6%
7 Palang Pracharat Party – 2.15%
Disturbing news for both the Palang Pracharat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party who face being wiped out if this poll turns out to be true after the election
The survey will make disturbing reading in particular for both the Palang Pracharat Party which appears to be facing an electoral wipeout in the next election and the Bhumjaithai Party which is facing a fierce campaign against it from whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit.
General Election turns into a referendum on Pot as Chuwit calls on the public to kick out Bhumjaithai
Mr Chuwit has urged Thai voters to use the election to register their displeasure at the party’s dramatic and chaotic legalisation of cannabis or marijuana which, to all intents and purposes, has seen pot legalised for widespread recreational use in Thailand since June last year.
The party is also being held to account due to its unwavering support for an unpopular government since 2019 which has never recovered from its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which cratered the Thai economy and which saw the party’s leader, Minister of Public Health and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, at the forefront of widespread lockdown efforts.
Voters angered by Bhumjaithai’s handling of its cannabis or marijuana legalisation campaign which effectively made recreational pot legal in Thailand
The marijuana situation has also angered many voters, particularly women, who are deeply concerned about drug abuse and mental instability in a country plagued by violent tragedies perpetrated on a daily basis by people influenced by narcotics.
Mr Chuwit, the whistleblower, was busy this weekend pursuing his campaign in Bangkok including setting up a makeshift stall near the Bhumjaithai party’s headquarters in the capital with T-Shirts and placards while shadowing the efforts of party leader Anutin Charnvirakul and former Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta who is coordinating the party’s attempt to elect its first MPs in the city with his own personal protests.
Chuwit has vowed that, like the last General Election, the Bhumjaithai Party will not elect an MP in Bangkok and has predicted that the party will be ejected from government after the next election due to, in no small measure, its policy on cannabis.
In return, the colourful and erratic businessman is facing a call from Bhumjaithai Party officials to its 400 candidates across the country to report and file complaints against him with the police for defamation.
Chuwit threatened with defamation proceedings and sued in Amnat Charoen after election posters attacking Bhumjaithai appeared in the northeast
The party has cited the former massage parlour boss and property tycoon’s vexatious comments about it in recent weeks in which he has set out openly to hinder its election prospects and accused one of its key ministers, Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob, of facilitating corruption.
He is already facing such a defamation complaint in Amnat Charoen province in northeast Thailand after posters appeared that reiterated his condemnation of Bhumjaithai and its cannabis policy.
Mr Chuwit has responded to and defended his activities on the basis of exercising his right to express his political opinions. He has also denied that he was responsible for any election posters in the province.
Poll findings also paint a bleak picture for Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha as it is quite clear that the Thai public wants a new government in office
Mr Saksayam, the senior Bhumjaithai Party minister, has recently been suspended from duties by the Constitutional Court following a complaint against him from MPs in the House of Representatives alleging that he indirectly held shares in a construction firm which Mr Chuwit claims had benefited from state projects ultimately under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport.
Mr Saksayam has rejected the claims and called on Mr Chuwit to substantiate them or face legal proceedings, also for defamation.
The figures will make grim reading at the same time for General Prayut as they signal what a half-empty auditorium in Chiang Mai on Friday told him as well as the stinging action of a market seller in the province who, on the same day, handed him wilted flowers and suggested he retire from politics and his stewardship of the country.
This followed protest scenes on Monday last in Ratchaburi where heavy-handed security officers were seen manhandling women who openly and vociferously protested at a rally in the province for the prime minister.