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The election count underway at Saphan Hin in Phuket City late today

Phuket Count Latest: Yingluck Wins Landslide, Phuket Stays Democrat

Sunday, July 3, 2011
Tonight's Updating News Report

PHUKET: The Opposition has won an election landslide in Thailand as counting confirms that Yingluck Shinawatra, a political novice, is likely to become the country's first female prime minister.

With 70.40 percent of the vote counted, Pheu Thai was heading to hold 254 seats, more than half of the 500 seats in Parliament. The Democrats were tipped to win 164, with the Bhumjaithai Party likely to take 34.

It also appeared as though the Democrats would hang on to the two seats on Phuket, retaining Phuket's reputation as a Democrat fortress. All 14 southern provinces seem set to remain in Democrat hands.

Nationwide, the picture was very different. Pheu Thai held a majority of the national vote, meaning it can govern alone without needing to form a coalition.

The Wall Street Journal was among overseas newspapers reporting that Khun Yingluck appeared set for victory after exit polls predicted a landslide to Pheu Thai.

Television showed Ms Yingluck, younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, swarmed by flashing cameras and journalists after the exit polls showed her Pheu Thai (For Thais) party winning a clear majority.

"Let's wait for the official results. I will tell you how I feel tonight," she told cheering supporters.

A large mandate to govern could make it easier to navigate a way out of out of the political crisis that has plagued Thailand since Khun Thaksin was overthrown in a military coup five years ago, the Wall Street Journal said.

Khun Thaksin was reported as saying from exile in Dubai: ''All parties must respect the people's decision otherwise our country cannot achieve peace.''

Analysts and legal experts say precedents suggest the courts could ultimately dictate who holds political power in the months after the election.

The red shirts have rallied around Khun Yingluck and accuse Khun Abhisit of being a puppet of the army amid grievances that have simmered since a 2006 military coup overthrew her brother.

According to some reports, Britain's Daily Telegraph says, the Pheu Thai camp had been in talks with the generals to find some way of working together should it emerge victorious.

Pheu Thai would be allowed to govern and the military top brass would remain in place, with early reshuffles limited to middle ranks.

About 47.3 million eligible voters across Thailand are choosing 500 members of the House of Representatives, or the lower house - 375 members from single-seat constituencies and another 125 from party-list category.

The Election Commission of Thailand expected unofficial results to become plain before 10pm as counting continues.
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