Former Singapore deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was elected president Friday, according to official results, in the city-state’s first contested vote for the largely ceremonial position in more than a decade.
The Elections Department declared the 66-year-old economist as the winner over two rival candidates after securing 70.4 percent of ballots cast.
“I declare Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam as the candidate duly elected as the president of Singapore,” said election returning officer Tan Meng Dui.
Mr Shanmugaratnam replaces incumbent Halimah Yacob who ran unopposed for her six-year term in 2017.
“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,” Mr Shanmugaratnam said in a speech before the results were announced.
There are stringent requirements for the position, which formally oversees the city’s accumulated financial reserves and holds the power to veto certain measures and approve anti-graft probes.
Observers said Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s win is a boost for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), which is widely perceived to favour his candidacy.
The party that has ruled Singapore continuously since 1959 has been hurt by a rare spate of political scandals ahead of the presidential vote.
Mr Shanmugaratnam, also a former finance minister, was a long-time PAP stalwart before he resigned to run for the non-partisan position of president.
His independence had been questioned during the campaign because of his previous ties with the government.
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