Thaksin family scion is top choice of Thais in survey for PM job

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, got 25 per cent backing of the respondents. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is the top choice of voters to lead the Southeast Asian nation after it holds general elections in less than a year, according to an opinion poll.

Paetongtarn, who is widely tipped to be the prime minister candidate of the nation's largest opposition party Pheu Thai, got 25 per cent backing of the respondents in a June 20-23 survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, known as Nida.

While Paetongtarn vaulted to the top of the popularity chart from her third position in a March survey, incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha saw his support slide for a fourth straight quarter to 12 per cent, Nida said.

The number of participants who said they couldn't find a suitable candidate fell to 19 per cent from 28 per cent in March. Pita Limcharoenrat, a leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, saw his support little changed at 13 per cent.

Paetongtarn, the youngest of Thaksin's three children who was named as head of the Pheu Thai Family earlier this year, has stepped up campaigns and outreach programmes in recent months to lead the party to a landslide win in elections that may be called by March.

Paetongtarn's supporters cited the need to give the younger generation a chance to run the country, her party's policies and the past works of Thaksin family as reasons to back her, Nida said.

Premier Prayut has seen his popularity erode as his government struggles to shore up an economy still reeling from the pandemic blow. The prime minister and 10 of his cabinet members are set to face a no-confidence vote in parliament next month. The opposition is set to grill the government on a range of issues including economic mismanagement, while the ruling coalition grapples with internal divisions.

Pheu Thai was the top choice of respondents at 36 per cent, with the Move Forward Party coming second at 18 per cent and Palang Pracharath, the largest party in Prayut's coalition government, coming fourth with 7 per cent of the votes.

Still, 19 per cent of the survey participants were neutral, or didn't support any political party, according to Nida's nationwide survey of 2,500 people of 18 years of age and above. The poll has a margin of error of 3 per cent, Nida said.

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