BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is still lagging behind the main opposition party, latest opinion polls showed, ahead of the Southeast Asian country's general election next month.
The May 14 election will be a battle between parties aligned with the conservative pro-military establishment and the billionaire Shinawatra family-backed Pheu Thai party, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the 36-year-old daughter and niece of two ex-premiers.
The Pheu Thai party was ahead with 38.89% in a nationwide survey by local media Matichon and Daily News conducted last week, followed by the Move Forward Party, headed by opposition politician Pita Limjaroenrat, on 32.37%.
Prayuth's United Thai Nation Party was in third place with 12.84%.
Former army chief Prayuth, 69, has led Thailand for more than eight years since he ousted a civilian government in a 2014 coup.
Asked who they favoured to be the next PM, 29.42% of poll respondents supported Pita, followed by Paetongtarn with 23.23%, while Prayuth trailed in fourth place with 13.72%.
However, Paetongtarn and her party's other two candidates for prime minister, popular real estate magnate Sretta Thavisin, and party stalwart Chaikasem Nitisiri, together was backed by about 40% of respondents.
A separate survey by Super Poll showed there would be no landslide victory, with the Pheu Thai Party receiving 160 out of 500 parliamentary seats, followed by the Bhumjaithai party, led by Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, with 121.
Prayuth's party was in fifth place with 43 seats.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Mike Harrison)