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Shinzo Abe scores major victory in Japan’s national elections

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TOKYO —  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has scored a major victory in national elections on Sunday that returned his ruling coalition to power for another three-year term next September.

The victory could extend his premiership to 2021, giving him more time to try to win a reluctant public over to his longtime goal of revising Japan’s postwar pacifist constitution.

The victory also means a continuation of the policies Abe has pursued in the nearly five years since he took office in December 2012 — a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defense, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy.

Shortly after polls closed, Japanese media projected that Abe’s LDP and its junior partner Komeito would win a clear majority and might even retain their two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a small coalition partner had together secured at least 312 seats in the 465-seat lower house of parliament, Japanese media said, passing the 310-barrier for a two-thirds majority. Four seats remained undecided, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

Abe dissolved the lower house less than a month ago, forcing the snap election. The lower house chooses the prime minister and is the more powerful of the two chambers of parliament.

His support ratings had fallen to around 30 percent in the summer, sparking talk that he might be vulnerable as leader of his party and prime minister.

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Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins presidency

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MALE — Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has beaten incumbent Abdulla Yameen according to provisional results, the country’s Elections Commission says.

Results released by the Elections Commission showed Mr Solih securing 133,808 votes (58.3 percent) compared to the 95,526 for incumbent Abdulla Yameen. The voter turnout was over 88 per cent out of the 262,000-strong electorate.

The Maldives government has acknowledged the opposition’s victory after the vote on Sunday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen who was widely expected to win.

There were no other candidates.

Mr Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Mr Yameen, but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.

“I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” Solih said on television, shortly after interim results from the country’s election commission.

“We have won this election with a comfortable majority,” Solih said.

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