Thai PM Srettha’s Popularity Slides as Opposition Keeps Climbing

(Bloomberg) -- The popularity of Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Pheu Thai Party continued to decline in the latest opinion poll amid mounting legal and economic challenges, while the opposition gained ground.

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Srettha’s approval rating hit a fresh low of 12.85% in a quarterly survey by the National Institute of Development Administration published Sunday. His rating fell from 17.75% in the first quarter and 22.35% late last year. The poll was conducted June 14 to June 18 among some 2,000 Thai adults and had a so-called confidence level of 97%.

The former property mogul, who took power in September after a messy general election, heads an 11-party coalition led by Pheu Thai and military-aligned conservative groups. A poll earlier this month showed most Thais are unhappy with the government’s performance, and it has has struggled to address issues such as a rising cost of living, highest household debt in Southeast Asia and sluggish economic growth.

Srettha’s tenure is also threatened by a legal challenge, with the Constitutional Court scrutinizing a petition to disqualify him. A group of senators alleges that Srettha’s decision to appoint former lawyer Pichit Chuenban as a minister in April violated ethical standards. Pichit was once convicted and sentenced to jail for an attempt to bribe court officials while representing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during a corruption trial.

Pita Limjaroenrat of the opposition Move Forward Party extended his lead as the top choice for prime minister in the new poll with a 45.5% rating. The option of a yet-to-be-identified appropriate person reached a 20.55% score, Nida said.

Pita’s upstart party won last year’s election but he was blocked from taking the top office. Lawmakers from the pro-military royalist establishment who opposed his progressive agenda — including proposals to reform the military and crack down on business monopolies — instead joined the runner-up Pheu Thai to form a government and endorsed Srettha’s premiership.

In the latest survey, Pheu Thai’s approval dropped to 16.85% from 22.1% in the previous poll. Move Forward ranked first with 49.2%, up from 48.45%.

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