BANGKOK - Thailand’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a budget of US$182 million (S$240 million) to hold a general election in 2023, a government spokesperson said.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has yet to dissolve Parliament and call an election, which must be held by May 2023.
Mr Prayut earlier in January joined a new party as he looks for ways to extend his eight-year rule despite term limits, signaling shifting alliances and a ramp up in political jockeying.
He is now a member of the newly formed Ruamthai Sarngchart party, which has pledged to name the former army chief as its candidate for prime minister. The move completes his split with the military-backed Palang Pracharath party that backed his bid for the top job four years ago.
Mr Prayut is manoeuvring to stay in power despite a steady decline in his popularity and a constitutional term limit that allows him to stay as prime minister just two more years.
He is counting on the support of the 250-member Senate, stacked with allies from the military establishment, who have until 2024 the power to vote alongside the Lower House and select the prime minister.
In the 2019 election, the Senate kept at bay the opposition Pheu Thai party linked to Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, a former premier ousted in an earlier coup and whose sister was later prime minister until the 2014 putsch led by Mr Prayut.
Thailand is expected to hold general elections in May with the 500-member House of Representatives set to complete its term on March 23.
A slew of electoral changes, including a return to a two-ballot system and a drop in party-list lawmakers, will give larger political parties like Palang Pracharath and Pheu Thai an upper hand.
Mr Prayut went looking for a new political vehicle after Palang Pracharath signalled it would back its leader and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan for the top job.
There was discontent within Palang Pracharath and the 16-party coalition it leads with much of this to do with Mr Prayut’s unpopularity and opinion polls showing Pheu Thai would bag the most seats in the elections. AFP, BLOOMBERG