July 4 - Thai stock market rallies on landslide win for Puea Thai Party, led by Thaksin-linked stocks; Abhisit steps down as Democrat leader. Arnold Gay reports.
NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4 BY 3 MATERIAL Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is stepping down as leader of his Democrat Party, a day after failing to prevent a landslide victory to the opposition Puea Thai Party. Abhisit says he's resigning to take responsibility for the Democrats' poor showing. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA SAYING: "I am the leader who led the Democrat party in this election. And the result was that we got less elected MPs in this election, compared to the previous one. In the spirit of any good party leader, I have to take responsibility. So, today I have decided to resign." The Democrat Party is projected to win just 160 seats compared to Puea Thai's 265. Markets welcomed the victory, with Thai stocks up 3.5 percent at the open. Shares of companies with links to Puea Thai led Monday's gains. The property firm of the Shinawatra family, SC Asset, surged over 13 percent, while shares of M-Link Asia soared over 20 percent. Yingluck Shinawatra ran SC Asset before stepping into politics, while M-Link is run by her husband. The local currency also rose, as the clear margin of victory boosted hopes of greater stability. The last six years in Thailand has been marked by bloody protests, military crackdowns, and growing tensions between the rich and poor. Bangkok residents have mixed views, with some citing her first-time status. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) 40-YEAR-OLD BANGKOK RESIDENT SUCHANYA TENGNOI, SAYING: "She doesn't have experience in politics, so I'm not sure if she is good or not. From the way she makes her speeches, it is always from the script. She is not good at giving speeches." But others, wary of ongoing tensions in Thai society, are willing to give her a chance. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) 18-YEAR-OLD STUDENT KITTIPAS SAKDAKAMPANAD, SAYING: "It is very new for Thailand to have its first female prime minister. I'm looking forward to see her work in the future." The Thai market had pulled back from April's 15-year highs because investors were worried about a hung parliament. Analysts say the landslide victory should see foreign funds returning. Foreign investors have withdrawn $1.44 billion of funds from Thailand since the start of May, when the election date was first announced. Arnold Gay, Reuters.