Yingluck Shinawatra
Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra greets her supporters Reuters

After her party won the parliamentary majority in Sunday's election, Yingluck Shinawatra will become Thailand's first female prime minister.

The sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck scored a victory for the popular new Pheu Thai party. She defeated incumbent Abhisit Vejjajiva and the military-backed government that destroyed her party five years ago.

I don't like to say that Pheu Thai has won, but I'd rather say the people have given the Pheu Thai party and myself a chance to serve them, Yingluck said in her victory speech in Bangkok.

There's still a lot of work to be done in the future, in terms of the well-being of the people and for the country's unity and reconciliation.

Much like her brother did in his first ministerial run, Yingluck appealed to the country's rural farmers and impoverished urban voters.

Yingluck has surprised many from near and far. She is a novice but not naive, and ran a deft campaign, said Guardian analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak.

Despite Thaksin's tumultuous relationship with the Thai military, national army chief General Prawit Wongsuwon told Thai newspapers that he would not intervene or challenge the election results.

Military intrusion into Thai democracy is notorious, and the majority of the southeast Asian nation's prime ministers have been replaced by generals over the years.

Pheu Thai, which translates to For Thais, is the latest incarnation of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party. It has undergone a number of changes since its 2001 inception, and was officially banned in 2007.

Yingluck said that she is talking to small opposition parties, hoping that they will merge with Pheu Thai's government, securing her a diversified, stronger voice in parliament.

The biggest question in this election is what the result now means for Thaksin himself. Overthrown in a bloodless coup d'état in 2006, Thaksin has been living in exile in Dubai after he was convicted of multiple corruption charges in absentia. Until the election, Thaskin would have been arrested by military police if he was to return to Thailand, but the Pheu Thai victory may open the door for his return.

Thaksin is a telecommunications billionaire turned champion of the poor farmer. His rise to power saw dramatic economic growth in rural areas, but was laden with controversy. He was charged by rivals at having bought votes through loan programs, and his literal war on drugs outraged humanitarian and human rights organizations around the world.

Many speculate that Thaksin, who once called his sister his political clone, will return to Thailand to run the government over Yingluck's shoulder. Yingluck's followers are the same enthusiastic Red Shirts who staged massive protests this time last year that left 90 people dead.

Many felt that a vote for Yingluck would achieve what last year's Bangkok occupation didn't, but if Thaksin returns, it may lead to the type of military resistance that General Prawit agreed to avoid.