Singapore ex-deputy PM Shanmugaratnam elected president

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former Singapore deputy prime minister, has been elected to the ceremonial post of president, according to official results, in an election seen as a barometer of public sentiment towards the ruling party amid economic challenges.

The Elections Department on Friday declared the 66-year-old economist as the winner over two rival candidates after securing 70.4 percent of votes.

Shanmugaratnam, a longtime leader of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), resigned from the government and the party ahead of the first contested presidential election in more than a decade.

“I believe that it’s a vote of confidence in Singapore. It’s a vote of optimism for a future in which we can progress together,” Shanmugaratnam said in a speech before the results were announced.

While the presidency is a largely ceremonial, nonpartisan post under the constitution, political lines were already drawn ahead of Friday’s election to replace incumbent Halimah Yacob, who ran unopposed for her six-year term in 2017.

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