Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha fell further behind his main election rival, the daughter of popular billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, a new opinion poll showed, as the nation awaited the dissolution of parliament ahead of elections.
Paetongtarn extends poll lead to 38% support
Prayuth in power since leading 2014 coup
Shinawatra-backed parties have won all elections since 2001
Paetongtarn Shinawatra's support jumped 10 points to 38.2% in a survey conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) published at the weekend, while Prayuth trailed in third place with 15.65%.
Opposition politician, Pita Limjaroenrat, who heads the Move Forward party, received support from 15.75% of respondents.
Thailand is expected to hold an election in May, which will continue a long-running political battle between the Shinawatra family and conservative pro-military establishment.
Thailand's Royal Gazette would announce the dissolution of parliament later on Monday, Deputy Prime Minster Wissanu Krea-ngam said. An election must take place between 45 and 60 days of dissolution.
Prayuth, who has been in power since staging a coup against the last Shinawatra government in 2014, shrugged off the latest survey result.
"Poll is a poll. It depends on what the people want ... it should not damage the country - that is most important for the next government," Prayuth told reporters on Monday.
"I want to do my best," he added.
Paetongtarn, 36, better known locally by her nickname "Ung Ing" is one of the nominees for prime minister for the Pheu Thai party, which together with its previous incarnations has won every Thai election since 2001.
The NIDA Poll, which surveyed 2,000 voters across Thailand in March, also showed that nearly 50% of respondents said they would back parliamentary candidates from Pheu Thai.
Paetongtarn on Friday said she was confident of winning the election by a landslide, with the aim of averting any political manoeuvring against her party, which has previously been removed from office by judicial rulings and military coups.