Thailand Elects Its First Female Prime Minister

After a career in business, the sister of a former prime minister takes over in government

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A little less than three months ago, Yingluck Shinawatra left her corporate career to step into politics as prime minister candidate for her brother Thaksin's populist Puea Thai Party. At the time of her May 16 nomination, the party was in a shambles as Thaksin, a former prime minister who has been sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power and lives in a Dubai villa, tried to lead from abroad. On Friday, Yingluck won the national election and became Thailand's first female prime minister. Reuters reports:

The 44-year-old businesswoman was catapulted from relative obscurity to stardom in a matter of days, and, with her good looks and down-to-earth approach, she quickly won over the poor who elected Thaksin twice and saw Yingluck as their best hope of bringing him home.

The Kentucky State-educated Yingluck made her career in her family's business empire, where "she rose to the rank of CEO of cellphone operator Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) in 2002 and then president of the family's property firm, SC Asset corporation, a position she held until the end of June." Now she's in charge of the Thai economy, elected largely by the rural poor who have long supported her brother and his party. Many of the Red Shirt protesters who shut down Bangkok in 2010 supported Thaksin, and called for the ouster of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the outgoing prime minister.

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