Most Thais Don’t See Suitable Candidate for Premier, Poll Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Most Thai voters say there’s no suitable candidate to become the next prime minister in the upcoming general elections, according to an opinion poll.

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Of the respondents surveyed this month by the National Institute of Development Administration, 24% said they don’t have a strong candidate in mind, up from 19% in June.

Support for Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who was suspended from the premier job by a court last month, declined from the last survey. Paetongtarn, who was the voters’ top choice in June, got 22% backing, while Prayuth got 10%.

The higher proportion of undecided voters signals uncertainty ahead of the elections, which may be called in May next year. It may be difficult to find the right person for the job as Southeast Asia’s second largest economy is facing problems ranging from high household debt and a weakening currency to a 14-year-high inflation rate.

How the Drama Surrounding Thailand’s Prime Minister May Unfold

Coup-leader-turned-premier Prayuth has seen his popularity erode for at least four straight quarters as his government struggles to shore up an economy still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic blow.

Backing for Pita Limjaroenrat, a leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, declined to 11%. Both Paetongtarn, widely tipped to be the prime minister candidate of the nation’s largest opposition party Pheu Thai, and Pita are supported by people who want to see the younger generation given a chance to run the country.

Pheu Thai was the top choice of respondents at 34% in the survey. The Move Forward Party came second with 14%, while Palang Pracharath, the largest party in Prayuth’s coalition government, came fifth with 5.6% of votes.

Still, nearly a quarter of respondents 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 3% margin of error, NIDA said.

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