BANGKOK – Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, widened her lead as the voters’ top choice for prime minister in the latest opinion poll ahead of a general election tentatively scheduled for May.
Ms Paetongtarn, 36, who represents Thailand’s largest opposition party, Pheu Thai, garnered 38.2 per cent of support in a poll of 2,000.
It is the latest edition of a quarterly survey by the National Institute of Development Administration. Her approval jumped from 34 per cent in the previous poll conducted in December.
Pheu Thai seeks to end nearly a decade of military-backed rule with pledges to lift the minimum wage by 70 per cent and boost economic growth to an average of 5 per cent annually if voted into power.
Incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha garnered the backing of 15.7 per cent of respondents, also up from December’s 14 per cent, ranking him third.
The coup-leader-turned-premier kicked off his campaign to extend his rule by ordering the dissolution of the nation’s Parliament, a prerequisite for the May polls.
Mr Prayut said on Friday that he has prepared a decree to dissolve Parliament and that it is awaiting royal endorsement.
The order, which may be published in the Royal Gazette on Monday, will come just days before the House’s four-year term ends on Thursday.
Mr Prayut, 68, is buying more time to campaign and recruit members to run for his new party, which lists him as the sole prime minister candidate.
Pledges from the top nine parties so far will require about 3.14 trillion baht (S$124 billion) per year, after excluding their overlapping policies, according to an analysis by the Thailand Development Research Institute.
The litany of promises from the two main parties will require two trillion baht each per year to implement, the institute said. BLOOMBERG