Embattled TRT still holds edge over opposition: poll
Eligible voters who intend to vote for a political party in the next general election are split in their choice between the ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party and any of the three main opposition parties, with TRT holding a slight edge, a national survey has found.
Almost 49 per cent of respondents said they would vote for Thai Rak Thai to continue as the ruling party if the general election were to be held today, compared to 42.5 per cent who would support either of the opposition Democrat, Chat Thai or Mahachon parties. The remainder preferred other political parties.
The results of the public opinion survey by Assumption University's Abac Poll were released yesterday.
The poll was conducted among 11,091 eligible voters in 33 provinces of all regions, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani and Songkhla, between July 10 and last Saturday.
Noppadon Kannika, director of the university's research centre, said that the implication of the survey's results was that 13.1 million voters nationwide would back the ruling party, while 11.4 million would favour the three opposition parties.
He said the result pointed to what he called "political equilibrium", which could serve as a deterrent against possible abuse of power by the ruling party.
As many as 84.3 per cent of those surveyed said they would vote in the poll, scheduled for October 15.
However, in a separate question on whether the poll participants would vote for a political party or not, the survey found that more than one in four, 29.2 per cent, would not vote for any political party.
They said they would tick the "no vote" box on the ballot paper, as did millions of voters in the subsequently annulled April 2 general election.
When asked why, these respondents said they favoured none of the current political parties; that the party policy platforms were irrelevant to them; or that they placed no hope in politicians who were prone to conflict, according to Noppadon.
The three main opposition parties, which boycotted the April 2 election, successfully campaigned for voters to choose the "no vote" option as a means of an indirect vote against the government.
There were more than 10 million such votes, against some 14 million votes cast for the Thai Rak Thai.
After the ruling party an-nounced last week that caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra would lead the party into the next election, the opposition Democrat and Chat Thai parties yesterday declared their readiness to form the next government if they won enough support.
The Democrats aired a TV commercial on Saturday that portrays party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as a modern and capable leader who "gives the priority to the people". A nationwide campaign to promote Abhisit as a sound prime-ministerial candidate will be launched soon.
Meanwhile, the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) plans to continue its campaign against Thaksin until he makes it clear he will not return as prime minister even if Thai Rak Thai wins the next election, said the group's spokesman Suriyasai Katasila yesterday.
PAD leaders will meet later today to discuss the group's next move if Thaksin remains tight-lipped about the matter, Suriyasai said.
He said that another mass rally similar to the ones held earlier this year was a possible option.