Sudarat leads popular pick for PM, says poll
Nida poll bumps Prayut to second place
The Pheu Thai Party, still reeling from party heavyweights jumping ship to join a pro-regime party, has been buoyed by a poll result which shows key party figure Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan is the number one choice for prime minister.
According to the Nida poll, Khunying Sudarat, chairwoman of the party's election strategy committee, is top on the list of 10 people who are popular favourites for prime minister.
The Pheu Thai Party also comes top among voters for the next general election tentatively slated for Feb 24.
The poll result gives Pheu Thai some comfort following recent mass defections.
Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a party spokesman, said Sunday it was heartening to know that the people still have confidence in Khunying Sudarat, who is tipped to be among the party's prime ministerial candidates.
Mr Anusorn said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha came second in the poll despite having been in power for more than four years and attempting to muzzle the media.
Still, the poll result showed his popularity was lower than that of the Pheu Thai.
Even though Pheu Thai has been rattled by defectors migrating to a pro-regime party, the people were still confident in the party's ability to govern, Mr Anusorn said.
He was referring to the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) led by Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, to which a number of Pheu Thai faithful have defected.
The PPRP has made it clear it will support Gen Prayut reclaiming the premiership after the poll, should he desire.
The National Institute for Development Administration, or Nida Poll, conducted the 5th and latest survey on the people's favourites for the post of prime minister on Nov 20-22.
The poll questioned 1,260 people aged 18 and over of various levels of education and occupations throughout the country.
The four previous polls were conducted in March, May, July and September this year.
Asked who is their favourite for the post, Khunying Sudarat was on top of the first 10 with 25.2%, followed by Gen Prayut 24.1%; Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the Future Forward Party leader, 14.5%; Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat Party leader, 11.7%.
Khunying Sudarat came second after Gen Prayut in the four previous surveys.
Asked to name the party they want to win the highest vote to form the core of the next government, the Pheu Thai Party came in first with 31.8%, followed by the Palang Pracharath Party 19.9%; the Democrat Party 17%; the Future Forward Party 15.6%.
Khunying Sudarat remarked on the continued mass exodus of Pheu Thai politicians to join the PPRP, saying she wished them the best of luck.
Still, Pheu Thai would never be short of people wanting to join the party, she said.
She was speaking during a visit to Nakhon Phanom's Na Kae district to open a party coordination centre.
During the trip, former Pheu Thai deputy secretary-general Chavalit Wichayasut announced he would run as a candidate in the province's Constituency 4, taking the place of former MP Chukan Kulwongsa, who recently left Pheu Thai to join the PPRP.
Meanwhile, Piyanat Watcharaporn, a former Si Sa Ket veteran politician, has emerged from the political wilderness to join the PPRP.
Mr Piyanat, a former Thai Rak Thai party-list MP, and his wife Wichitra applied for PPRP membership.
He said that while the PPRP is not the best party, it offers the best opportunity to steer the country forward.
A former PM's Office minister under the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government, Mr Piyanat had a reputation in the past based on his sharp tongue.
He had a car accident in 1997, which left him physically disabled and forced him to leave politics.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat on Sunday, more than 2,000 people applied to join the Thai Raksa Chart Party at the opening of the 4th party branch.
A party meeting, held at a hotel in Muang district to elect the party branch committee, was attended by party leader Lt Preechapol Pongpanich and core party members including Sutham Saengprathum and former United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders Veerakan Musikapong, Korkaew Pikulthong, Nattawut Saikuar and Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai.
The party's core members were greeted with a long-drum procession and marigold garlands.
They took turns to speak to new members, stressing the party's determination "not to yield to dictatorship".
Lt Preechapol said he was glad to see as many as 2,000 people wanting to join the party in a region that is not a traditional stronghold.