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Monday, July 04, 2011

Thailand Elects First Female Prime Minister

Thailand elected its first female prime minister Sunday.

The official tally has not yet been completed, but Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai party has won 262 seats in the country's 500-seat parliament, with a little over 90 percent of the vote tallied as of Sunday.

"The first thing I want to do is help people on their economic situation," Yinluck said Sunday, according to CNN. She held off on declaring victory until the official count was done, despite the fact that minutes before, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva conceded victory to her.

Yingluck is the youngest sister of one of Thailand's most controversial figures, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 military coup.

47 million people are eligible to vote in Thailand, and Sunday's vote was held to decide Thailand's first general election since 2007, an election that many hope will shut the door on years of unrest between rival political groups that came to a head last year with protests resulting in deaths.

The split concerns the Democratic Party and the Pheu Thai party and is largely emblematic of long-standing divisions in Thai society. Over 90 people will killed last year during protests against Abhisit's government that resulted in a military crackdown.

Following the riots, the government promised to work towards healing class and political divisions, though most voters were more concerned with economic issues.

"Free education is good, care for the elderly is also good. In act every parties' policies are all good, the question is if they would ever implement them," Banorn Achiryawatkul told CNN outside of a polling station.

"There is a lot more hard work to do in the future for the well-being of our sisters and brothers, the people of Thailand," Yingluck said Sunday, according to CNN. "There are many things to accomplish to make reconciliation possible, paving the way for a solid foundation for a flourishing nation."

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