The opposition claims the right to form a coalition government

The risks of political instability in Malaysia have not disappeared after the first tight results of the assembly elections on Saturday 19 November. Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition coalition has claimed the right to form the next government. According to official results, Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Faith) coalition won 82 seats against 73 after counting of votes for 219 seats in the election. .

“We now have the majority to form the government”, Anwar Ibrahim told reporters at a dawn news conference after tense overnight talks. Anwar Ibrahim, 75, pressed on who would ally with him, did not name them but said their pledges had been made in writing and would be submitted to the king for approval.

Or Muhyiddin Yassin said he would lead discussions to form the next government. We are ready to work with any partyThe former prime minister told reporters.

The ruling coalition is far behind

Analysts have warned that the multi-ethnic nation risks growing instability if the corruption-tainted government fails to emerge from a clear majority in polls aimed at consolidating its legitimacy in the Southeast Asian nation.

In this context, the smaller regional parties in Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo should form the Raja. Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had hoped to consolidate its power in the election, fell far behind with 30 seats.

As for former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who hoped to return to power in ’97, he was attacked in his stronghold of Langkawi Island and lost his seat in parliament. This should put an end to his political career.

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In a poll conducted by Merdeka before the election, Mr. Anwar’s coalition won 82 out of 222 seats, with 33% of voters backing him for the post of Prime Minister. Only 219 seats were polled in the end because two candidates died and one constituency was unable to vote due to bad weather.

Registration of participation

Turnout was strong, officials said, with 70% voting two hours before the close of business at 4pm local time. Long queues formed outside polling stations on Saturday, despite the threat of monsoon rains, as a large number of 21 million registered voters cast their ballots. On social media, people can be seen waiting outside a polling station in knee-deep water in the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

For four years, this parliamentary monarchy was rocked by political turmoil and a waltz of governments that saw three prime ministers succeed each other over the years. After the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia is facing an economic downturn and inflation.

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After more than sixty years in power, the historically dominant party, the United Malayan National Organization (UMNO), was swept out of power in the 2018 election, marking the first change in the country’s history. Then-Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently serving a twelve-year prison sentence for embezzling billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. Umno returned to business in 2021 with a narrow majority.

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And hoping to strengthen his grip on power, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob dissolved parliament and called early elections in September 2023. But the historically dominant party has been plagued by its links to the biggest corruption case, 1MDB, the fund. It was contributing to the development of the country. However, the money was diverted to Najib Razak’s bank account.

The scandal sparked investigations in the US, Switzerland and Singapore, where financial institutions were allegedly used to defraud billions of dollars.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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