Bangkok University Poll shows support for Yingluck drops 10 points
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Bangkok University Poll shows support for Yingluck drops 10 points

Bangkok University Poll surveyed 1,234 people throughout Thailand between June 18-20.

Q1: If today there was an election, who would you support as the Prime Minister between Yingluck and Abhisit? (“หากวันนี้เป็นวันเลือกตั้ง ท่านจะสนับสนุนใครเป็นนายกรัฐมนตรีระหว่างน.ส.ยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร กับนายอภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีว)

BP: This is a significant fall in support for Yingluck, but Abhisit hasn’t gained at Yingluck’s expense. In fact, support for Abhisit also declined albeit slightly. Yingluck is also now slightly less popular than her party (see Q2).

Q2: If today there was an election, which party would you vote for? (“หากวันนี้เป็นวันเลือกตั้ง ท่านจะเลือกพรรคใด”)

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BP: The November 2012 figures were very similar to the 2011 election, but as you have seen support for Puea Thai has dropped by almost 8 points.  As with Abhisit, support for the Democrats has also dropped.

Q3: As of today, do you expect the Yingluck government will serve out the full term or not? (ณ วันนี้ ท่านคาดว่ารัฐบาลของ น.ส. ยิ่งลักษณ์ฯ จะทำงานครบวาระหรือไม่)

A. Last the full term of 4 years, 55.4% (61% in November 2012)

B. Last for at least 3 years, but not 4, 13.9% (7.9% in November 2012)

C. Last for at least 2 years, but not 3, 10.6% (11.8% in November 2012)

D. Unsure/don’t know, 20.1% (17.2% in November 2012)

BP: Again, overall confidence in the government serving out the term has dropped, but it is a drop as opposed to people thinking the government is about to fall.

Q4. Do you think the Prime Minister should reshuffle the Cabinet now? (ณ วันนี้ ท่านคิดว่า นายกฯ ยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร ควรมีการปรับครม. หรือไม่)

A. Yes, 45.4%

B. No, 22%

C. Unsure, don’t know, 32.6%

BP: Boonsong surely has to be replaced at the next Cabinet reshuffle which would need to take place soon.

Some other comments.

1. As reflected in the by-election loss in Don Muang last week, there has been a loss of support for Puea Thai. Nevertheless, the Democrats and Abhisit have not gained at all and they have even lost support. Those who have moved away from Yingluck/Puea Thai have moved to “unsure” or “don’t know”. Yingluck and Puea Thai’s support of 40% is not catastrophic either although, like with the by-election loss, it is a wake-up call for the government. Having said that as long as former Puea Thai supporters are in the “unsure” or “don’t know”, the government can win those supporters back.

2. There are a likely a number of factors for the government and Yingluck’s bad poll numbers. The PM’s speech in Mongolia – as blogged about here – showed the government was taking a new approach. However, after the insult directed at Yingluck (as made clear in this post it was directed at her) by the Thai Rath cartoonist who stated that Yingluck is an evil woman who sells the country, but also implied she is worse than a whore, Yingluck made a mistake – as blogged about here – in filing a criminal defamation complaint (as well as other complaints including under the Computer Crimes Act) against the Thai Rath cartoonist. Things only got worse with ICT Minister Anudith threatening to close websites for posting insulting comments (although he later seems to have backed down) and Deputy PM Plodprasob calling protesters garbage.

Then, you had the abysmal government performance in explaining the losses over the rice pledging scheme, particularly that of the Commerce Minister. The government has taken a big hit to its reputation over the fiasco and it is probably the main reason for the loss of support. Nevertheless, while in the short term BP thinks the government will take further hits for cutting the pledging price – although do expect the cut from 15,000 Baht to 12,000 Baht a ton to be adjusted to 12,500-13,000 Baht a ton in negotiation with farmers – in the longer term, the government will reduce the risk of serious fiscal problems.

This is not to say the government has not been weakened, but it is to simply say the government was going to have to cut the pledging price as the cost of the scheme was more than originally forecast and would just further increase each year. Not taking action would hurt the government’s ability to reduce the deficit and increase public debt which would increase the political problem of higher public debt. Actually, as noted in the public debt post last month that the government would likely curtail both the rice pledging scheme and the diesel tax waiver within the next couple of years. This has happened* rather quicker than BP expected, but this is because of the losses incurred for the rice pledging scheme are much higher than the government and the World Bank had previously forecast.

This is also not to say the government will gain in the long-term from cutting the pledging price, but delaying the inevitable would only hurt the government more in the long-term. As long as the pledging price is 13,000 Baht or under – and assuming there is a not a dramatic change in the world rice market – the government will be able to comfortably keep the losses to under 100 Billion Baht (probably around 70 billion baht). This will ensure no more credit negative warnings from Moodys…

NOTE: Will have more comments on rice pledging scheme this week…

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Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Pic: AP.

* Survey methodology for Bangkok University Poll:

By gender: 49.1% women and 50.9% men

By age:

* those aged 18-25 (28.3%),

* those aged 26-35 (22.3%),

* those aged 36-45 (25.2%),

* those aged 46-55 (21.6%)

* those aged 56+ (15%)

By education:

73.5% have less than a bachelor’s degree, 23% have a bachelor’s degree, and 3.5% have an advanced degree.

By profession:

15.9% contractors, 12.2% are farmers, 22.7% are traders/self-employed, 18.8% work for private enterprises, 10.7% are civil servants/state enterprise employees, 10.3% are housewives/househusbands/retired, 6.4% students, Others 2% didn’t specify a job/unemployed/freelance.

*The government already indicated last month that for the October 2013-September 2014 budget that the government will start to collect excise tax on diesel which will result in an extra 30 billion baht a year in revenue.