Malaysia’s two rival prime ministerial candidates, Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin, both claimed victory in the election on Sunday. That reports The Straits Times. Malaysian voters voted en masse against the old corrupt power after the breakup of an opposition coalition in 2020. Two alternative coalitions have a chance to govern.
220 of the 222 seats in the Malaysian House of Commons have been counted at the time of publication of this article. Many young and progressive Malaysians hoping for change voted for candidates from Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (HP) coalition. This coalition has so far been rewarded with 82 seats. Ibrahim has already stated that he can form a majority and has sent a letter to Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah to appoint a formateur.
73 seats went to the conservative Perikatan Nasional (PN) of Muhyiddin Yassin. This includes the Islamic conservative party PAS. According to the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times the gain is due to the vote of conservative Muslims. The newspaper speaks of a ‘green wave’.
The far-right ethnic-Malay coalition led by 97-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad lost. He also failed to retain his own district seat. The dogged power politician now seems to have played out for the first time since 1969. Mahathir has in the past politically eliminated his former protoge Anwar Ibrahim over sodomy accusations. Ibrahim has been convicted twice and received a pardon from the king in 2018.
Both winning coalitions want to form a cabinet, but not with each other. To form a majority, they must cooperate with regional parties from, among others, Malaysian Borneo.
More than 80% of eligible voters went to the polls. Young people between the ages of 18 and 21 were able to vote for the first time since a change in the law in 2019.
Since 2015, Malaysian politics has been overshadowed by the so-called 1MDB corruption scandal, in which billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money were embezzled in the country. It brought down former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
In 2018, the longstanding conservative bloc Barisan Nasional, led by the Malay ethnic party UMNO, lost power for the first time after 60 years of rule. A counter-coalition fell apart in 2020 after 22 months due to infighting.
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