Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Survives No-Confidence Vote

THAILAND’S Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha (picture) survived a vote of no confidence after opposition parties targeted him for economic mismanagement ahead of general elections expected by early next year.

This is the fourth such vote the leader faced since 2019. Prayuth was backed by 256 lawmakers on Saturday, while 206 voted against him, following a four-day debate. The parliament will hold no-confidence votes for ten other cabinet members later.

The survival of Prayuth cleared uncertainty about the fate of the 2023 fiscal budget bill, which is crucial to ensuring the recovery of an economy which has been lagging behind regional peers. Lawmakers are expected to reconvene to deliberate the budget bill in second and third readings next month.

The prime minister had been expected to survive the vote even as he faces challenges in the last months before he’s expected to call the next election. Prayuth, who will complete eight years as premier next month since seizing power in a 2014 coup, has seen a steady decline in popularity.

In the latest independent opinion poll, Prayuth trailed significantly behind Paetongtarn Shinawatra of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, daughter of former ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra who was toppled in a coup in 2006.

The baht has lost more than 9% this year, tumbling this week to a fresh 2006 low to become one of the worst performers among emerging markets. Thailand is also struggling to rein in inflation, which has accelerated to a 14-year high. – Bloomberg