Thai Opposition Figure Widens Lead Over Prime Minister in Poll

(Bloomberg) -- A Thai opposition politician facing mounting challenges to his political survival widened his lead over Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in a new survey, underscoring divisions in the Southeast Asian nation.

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Pita Limjaroenrat, of the opposition Move Forward Party, ranked first with an approval rating of 42.75% in a quarterly survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, up from 39.4% in the last poll.

Srettha’s rating fell to 17.75% from 22.35% in the survey published on Sunday. The institute, a graduate school in Bangkok, said the poll covered some 2,000 respondents from every region of the nation, and that it came with a “confidence level” of 97%.

Challenges have been mounting against the upstart Move Forward Party since it won last year’s election but Pita was blocked from taking the country’s top political office. Lawmakers from the pro-military royalist establishment who opposed to his progressive agenda — including proposals to reform the military and crack down on business monopolies — instead joined hands with the runner-up Pheu Thai Party to form a government and endorsed Srettha’s premiership.

Read More: How Thai Law on Royal Insults Caused Political Crisis: QuickTake

Earlier this month, Thailand’s Election Commission asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Move Forward Party. That move came after the top court ruled in January that the opposition party and Pita had violated the charter by seeking to overthrow the constitutional monarchy with its campaign to loosen the royal defamation law.

If the party gets disbanded, its executive leaders including Pita, could be banned from politics for 10 years. Future Forward Party, Move Forward’s predecessor, was dissolved in 2020.

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