Bhutan's main opposition party, which campaigned on developing stronger ties with neighbour India amid China's growing influence, will take over power in the tiny Himalayan nation after winning a majority of seats in parliamentary elections. The People's Democratic Party won 32 seats in the 47-member National Assembly in Saturday's elections, Chief Election Commissioner Kunzang Wangdi announced yesterday. The ruling Peace and Prosperity Party won 15 seats. The elected members of parliament belonging to the PDP were expected to meet over the next few days to choose their parliamentary leader, with Tshering Tobgay likely to be named prime minister. Tobgay, 47, president of the PDP, has a master's in public administration from Harvard and was opposition leader. The PDP has criticised the government for a recent deterioration of ties with India. It had also sought greater devolution of power to the people, a slogan that proved popular in rural areas. "People were looking for a responsible change and we will fulfil the promises we have made during the campaign," PDP secretary general Sonam Jatsho said after the results were formally announced. "We have been emphasising empowerment of the people and empowering local governments." Jatsho reiterated that the new government would be committed to strengthening relations with India. "Good relations with India are paramount for Bhutan and this has been nurtured by our leaders for decades," he said. Sandwiched between China and India, Bhutan was closed to the world before starting to open up in the 1960s. Foreigners and the international media were first admitted in 1974, and television arrived only in 1999. India has had a special relationship with Bhutan, which over the decades has been the biggest recipient of Indian aid. Thousands of Bhutanese study in India, and New Delhi has helped build several hydropower plants in Bhutan, with the electricity being sold to India. However, India's decision early this month to cut subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene was a major election issue, with media reports saying India cut the subsidies to show its unhappiness over the Bhutanese prime minister's cozying up to China. Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley's meeting with then premier Wen Jiabao at a summit in Brazil last year did not go down well in India. It was Bhutan's second parliamentary vote. The remote nation of about 738,000 held its first election in 2008 after the Bhutanese king voluntarily reduced the monarchy's role in running the country. Wangdi said more than 80 per cent of the nearly 382,000 eligible voters cast ballots. Primaries held in May had eliminated three of five political parties, leaving the Peace and Prosperity Party and the People's Democratic Party. The results showed that many supporters of the three parties who lost backed the PDP. In the primaries, the Peace and Prosperity Party secured 45 per cent of the vote compared to the PDP's 35 per cent.