A national opinion poll reveals the Move Forward Party still climbing in support with Pheu Thai falling. In the meantime, the Bhumjaithai Party, with only 2.2% support, appears to have gained power in the Senate election result, set for official announcement on July 3.

A national opinion poll on Sunday showed the Move Forward Party striding ahead of a faltering Pheu Thai Party. At the same time, the poll showed only 2.2% indicating they would vote for the Bhumjaithai Party. The astonishingly low level of public support comes in the same week that the party appears to have unofficially come out on top in the Senate election, which was finalised just outside Bangkok on Wednesday night. The results are due to be formally announced by the Election Commission on Wednesday, July 3, barring unforeseen developments.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin (centre) faces mounting legal woes with a case to remove him to be heard again in July. In the meantime, his popular support keeps falling. The latest National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) poll gives him 12.85%, down from 17.75% three months ago. Meanwhile, Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul (right) has only 1.75% support. His party only has 2.2%. Yet, it is estimated that over half the newly elected Thai Senate is affiliated with the Bhumjaithai Party after last week’s Senate election was finalised in Nonthaburi. (Source: NIDA and Election Commission)

At the same time, the Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul insisted that his party had no part to play in the poll. Indeed, at the outset of the General Election, he issued a statement affirming this.

However, according to analysts, between 37.5% and 70% of new senators are affiliated with the country’s fifth most popular party and second most important in the government.

The quarterly National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) opinion poll on politics released on Sunday shows the popularity of the Pheu Thai Party and its key leaders in decline.

The poll also reaffirms rising support for the Move Forward Party and its former leader Mr Pita Limjaroenrat.

Nearly half potential Thai voters now support the Move Forward Party. Its former leader Pita Limjaroenrat is also the people’s first choice for PM at 45.5%

Mr Pita led the party to a resounding victory in the May 2023 General Election but was denied the premiership by the previous senate. The upper house voted strongly against the party because of its calls to reform Article 112 of the lèse-majesté law.

On Sunday, nevertheless, the polls showed the Move Forward Party is supported by nearly half the Thai voting public. It came in with 49.2% of potential voters in a poll conducted over recent weeks. Meanwhile, Mr Pita has also increased his support from 42.75% three months ago to 45.5% now.

The poll, which proved itself accurate in the last General Election, was conducted in late June among 2,000 prospective voters.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has seen his support drop. Presently, only 12.85% support him as PM. That is down from 17.75% three months ago.

Pheu Thai, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Paetongtarn Shinawatra have tumbled in the polls dating back to weeks before last year’s General Election 

Similarly, with Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the support for ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s daughter has been in decline now since just before last May’s General Election, particularly after the Pheu Thai Party ditched its democratic ally for a compromise coalition with conservative parties of the previous government. This occurred in August 2023.

However, the decline in Pheu Thai’s support began some weeks before the 2023 poll. Indeed, it occurred at the same time as the controversial Digital Wallet proposal. In short, this stood in contrast to the universal social welfare plan proposed by Move Forward.

Afterwards, the lacklustre performance of the government has seen the popularity of the party tumble.

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Presently, 16.85% of voters support Pheu Thai. In short, these are loyal stalwarts of the political group, many of them middle-aged voters.

Latest poll tally shows a surge for the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party formed last year by former Prime Minister General Prayut Chan ocha

Significantly, in this poll, the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party created by former Premier General Prayut Chan-o-cha has surged.

Indeed, it is now nearly twice as popular as the two other conservative parties in the coalition combined.

Similarly, with the party’s leader was handpicked by General Prayut in the dying days of his rule. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Pirapan Salirathavibhaga was listed in third place in the roll call for PM preferences.

He came in with 6.85%. He was significantly ahead of Ms Paetongtarn who prior to last year’s General Election consistently topped the polls. She scored 4.85%.

However, it is the popularity of the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party that stands out in this poll.

It has risen to 7.55%. In short, it was the third most popular party. On 3.75%, in fourth, was the country’s oldest, the Democrat Party.

In the meantime, the Bhumjaithai Party, which unofficially swept the board in the Senate election, only has 2.2% support. It was in fifth place.

After that, the old governing party under General Prayut, Palang Pracharat, retained only 1.75%.

According to political insiders, between 37.5%-70% of senators in the new Senate are affiliated with the Bhumjaithai Party which faces a dissolution threat

The latest poll comes with reports that somewhere between 37.5% and 70% of senators chosen in this week’s election at the Impact Centre in Nonthaburi are affiliated with the Bhumjaithai Party. 

The election results were finalised on Wednesday night. They are due to be formally announced by the Election Commission in the coming week.

Presently, the Bhumjaithai Party is before the Election Commission facing a complaint after the Constitutional Court ruled in January that ex-Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob held shares in a private firm while in office.

The upheld complaint alleged that he oversaw a ministry which subsequently awarded contracts to the Buriram Construction, owned or controlled effectively by his family.

The case against the Bhumjaithai Party may be aggravated by the fact that the Buriram-based company donated substantially to it.

In short, that party could conceivably face dissolution. However, the Election Commission has not yet sent the case to the Constitutional Court for adjudication.

Bhumjaithai Party seen as part of the conservative establishment in Thailand, however, it is well known for its successful campaign to legalise cannabis

The relatively new political party that has participated now in two successive coalition governments is seen as conservative. At the same time, it likes to emphasise its grassroots base.

It is the party behind Thailand’s Cannabis revolution which is currently being reversed by the new government.

Indeed, this may yet become a political faultline despite the party’s insistence that it will hold to collective cabinet decisions.

Cannabis slammed by top medical leaders and academics at Ministry of Public Health civil forum

Certainly, political analysts this week were shocked at the outcome of the Senate race.

The convoluted election of senators by candidates was difficult for the public to follow. At one point, it was feared that the pro-democratic Move Forward Party would succeed in bringing its affiliated candidates through.

Senate result was an amazing feat of networking

However, the election based on 20 different professional areas of interest in the kingdom was, at the same time, based on influence.

Therefore, in that arena, the Bhumjaithai Party and its networks linked to powerful families appear to have prevailed. In addition, pundits discount any claims of fraud or at least any fraud that can be proved before the courts.

Nevertheless, it leaves a party which only had 3% support in the last General Election and 2.2% now, in a very powerful position.

Its leader, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, for instance, controls the powerful Ministry of the Interior.

The party additionally has 71 MPs and is now a guiding, if not a controlling hand in the Senate.

New Senate no longer has a say in electing the Prime Minister. However, it has considerable influence. Last week’s election has enhanced Bhumjaithai’s power

The new Senate no longer has a voice in the choice of PM. However, it does hold sway over Thailand’s powerful independent government agencies.

These include the Ombudsman Office, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Election Commission, and the State Audit Commission.

In addition, the upper house can send laws back to the lower house for reconsideration. However, ultimately, it may not block legislation.

At this time, the Constitutional Court is set to resume its hearings of cases against both the Move Forward Party and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in July. 

The cases are linked to complaints from the Election Commission and the outgoing Senate.

In the meantime, the government leader may face further legal troubles with a case due next week to be lodged for sacking former deputy police chief General Surachate Hakparn or Big Joke.

Political turmoil and threats to stability are growing. The situation is caused by the provisions of the 2017 Constitution which undermine the executive

In addition, the Prime Minister and his government face a legal backlash over plans to extend the property ownership rights of foreigners. The situation, in short, highlights the growing power of the courts, state agencies in Thailand and the upper house.

In short, the 2017 Constitution is not conducive to a stable executive branch of government. Introduced ostensibly to fight corruption, these processes are being abused as political weapons.

At the same time, the Senate victory by the Bhumjaithai Party gives it considerable power over any attempt to reformulate the 2017 charter.

Certainly, after this week’s debacle, there are calls to change the Senate election process to a direct, transparent public vote. However, political analysts suggest that any such move is likely to be blocked by the party.

The fact that Sunday’s national opinion poll shows it with only 2.2% is significant.

Of course, as he has often responded, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul will point out that the only poll that matters is an election result.

In this respect, both at a local level to elect House of Representatives MPs and with systematic networking of Senate elections, the party appears to have a winning knack.

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Further reading:

Constitutional Court update: Senate race gets the all clear while PM and Move Forward must wait til July

Political maelstrom may be unleashed in June with potential crises brewing and coming to a climax

Wissanu is back in government service as the aura of political instability returned to Thailand this week

PM survives Constitutional Court’s call in a close run thing raising real questions over his future

PM Srettha Thavisin could be temporarily toppled from power on Thursday by the Constitutional Court

Cabinet reshuffle sees Pheu Thai tighten ship as it readies to drive the economy and digital wallet at full steam

Thaksin’s real influence hinted at with a lunchtime meeting at his daughter’s central Bangkok hotel in Ploenchit

Big cabinet reshuffle talks confirmed by the PM after Songkran visit to Thonburi to meet Thaksin at home

Jail time to return for Cannabis players as Srettha describes the trade as a threat to the country and economic negative

Bank of Thailand holding strong against a strident push by the PM for more populist economics as debt levels rise

Property market glut sees minister’s call for supports in the face of the central bank’s ongoing credit crunch

Prime Minister Srettha still doggedly pushing his less than popular and legally perilous Digital Wallet plan

Digital Wallet plan blown out of the water by corruption body on Tuesday warning of illegality

Srettha outlines Digital Wallet as his government begins to flounder with a faltering economy and confusion