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Bush set to become next US president

George W. Bush is the new US president

(Keystone)

The Republican candidate, George W. Bush, has won the United States presidential elections, defeating Democrat challenger, Al Gore, according to forecasts by US television networks.

Provisional results from the state of Florida, one of the last states to count its votes, gave Bush a total of 271 votes from the US electoral college. He needed 270 to win.

It was the closest presidential contest since John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960.

Bush's victory puts the Republicans back into the White House for the first time in eight years.

It makes him the first presidential son since John Quincy Adams in 1825 to follow his father into the White House.

The victory also has huge personal significance for the 54-year-old governor of Texas. It was Bill Clinton who unseated George Bush senior in 1992, and Bush relished the idea of defeating Clinton's vice-president, Gore.

Bush is believed to have won over the electorate with his promise of big tax cuts and less government.

Bush dealt blows to the Democrats with early victories in Gore's home state of Tennessee as well as Arkansas - the home of the outgoing president, Bill Clinton.

For Gore, on the other hand, there were important victories in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

In Congress, the Republicans have retained their majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

One of the most eagerly awaited results was in New York, where the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, beat the Republican, Rick Lazio, in the Senate election by an estimated half-million vote margin.

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