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Mostly pro-Obama turnout at Election Watch event

Students vote in a mock poll at the US Presidential Election Watch Party held by the US Embassy in Bangkok yesterday.

Students vote in a mock poll at the US Presidential Election Watch Party held by the US Embassy in Bangkok yesterday.

After picking up the Democratic Donkey pin he accidentally dropped on the floor, Nichnan Wongson, 14, uttered, "Oops! Is this a bad sign?"

He repeated the question to his friends as they joined hundreds of observers at the US Presidential Election Watch Party at the Plaza Athenee Hotel yesterday morning. He and dozens of his friends from Islamic College of Thailand all threw their support behind Barack Obama to continue his presidency.

"I prefer Obama's policies as they help the poor. However, I didn't like it when he said it was the right of a woman to choose abortion. It doesn't sound morally correct," he said.

Warinporn Ruengprach, Nichnan's senior from the same school, said she did not like Republican candidate Mitt Romney's policies towards Islamic countries and immigrants.

Most of the guests at the party hosted by the US Embassy were students. They were invited via Thailand's secondary schools, universities, military and police cadet academy. Some were exchange students from abroad. Others were diplomats, academics and politically active figures.

Among them were Pheu Thai MP Jarupan Kuldiloke and former Election Commission secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

Sapai Melamed from Florida, meanwhile, entered a contest on Facebook just to win one of the 10 invitation prizes. She came to the party with her 14-month-old son Isaac.

"I can stay home and watch CNN but I'm living abroad. I want to feel the excitement I felt in America during the election," she said.

Americans are very serious about the election, she said. Although her husband went to work, she was sure that he must have been following the voting results too. Both are Democrats.

"I think Obama really understands how the people are feeling and I agree with everything he stands for," she said about the president who "made history".

Most of the guests at the event supported Obama. The mock poll also showed that the pile of about 500 ballots marked by guests for Obama was so much higher than the one for Romney that there was no need for a count.

Philip Robertson, deputy chairman of Democrats Abroad Thailand, came in a T-shirt with Obama's name written in large Thai characters. Unsurprisingly, he defended all the policies of Obama.

"Obama as the US leader will be better for Thailand and Southeast Asia because there will be continuation of policies placing priority on Southeast Asia," he said.

It after 11am before the participants really started paying attention to the wall monitor showing the voting tally. They cheered loudly as it became apparent that Obama was leading.

Both before and after learning the vote results, Salvador Ahumada, chairman of Republicans Abroad Thailand, said he would support the US president no matter who wins the election and he believed that America deserved to be seen as a good model of a political system.

"At the end of the day, one thing we can share with the rest of the world is that the system of democracy does work. It makes sense. Everyone should have a voice, should be able to elect their government that will also represent them," he said.

His message was in line with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney's comments in closing the event before noon. She declined to make any remarks about the result as it was not yet official, but she thanked all participants and, in Thai, asked them to give a round of applause for democracy.

"Choen probmue hai kab prachatipatai!"


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