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By Jason Szep and Martin Petty
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s opposition won a landslide election victory on Sunday, led by the sister of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a triumph for red-shirt protesters who clashed with the army last year.
Exit polls showed Yingluck Shinawatra’s Puea Thai (For Thais) party winning a clear majority of parliament’s 500 seats, paving the way for the 44-year-old business executive to become Thailand’s first woman prime minister.
“I’ll do my best and will not disappoint you,” she told supporters after receiving a call of congratulations from her billionaire brother, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives in Dubai to avoid jail for graft charges that he says were politically motivated.
“He told me that there is still much hard work ahead of us,” she told reporters.
With nearly all votes counted, Yingluck’s party won a projected 261 seats with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party taking 162, according to the Election Commission.
Abhisit conceded defeat. “I would like to congratulate the Puea Thai Party for the right to form a government,” he said.
Exit polls by Bangkok’s Suan Dusit University showed Puea Thai doing even better, winning 313 seats compared to just 152 for the Democrats, dismal enough to threaten Abhisit’s job as party leader.
Yingluck’s supporters were jubilant, erupting in roars and cheers as television broadcast the exit polls. Continued…