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Malaysian elections add new turmoil: Hungarian Parliament


A prime minister is accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. The outgoing Führer overthrew him in a historic election. Infighting in the new government, forcing the patriarch to resign. Two new prime ministers in less than two years.

The incumbent coalition government has promised that the political turmoil in Malaysia will end with elections to be held on Saturday. Seeing an opportunity to consolidate its power, the government moved national elections to one year and urged voters to usher in a new era of stability by enacting a new mandate to govern.

But the gamble backfired. The incumbent coalition ended up winning far fewer seats than the two rival groups. And now Malaysia is grappling with the first hung Parliament in its history, and political instability has multiplied.

“The whole thing was a complete mess,” said James Chin, professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania and an expert on Malaysian politics.

Pakatan Harapan, a reform-minded multi-ethnic opposition coalition, is leading with 82 seats. And in a surprise to political pundits, Perikatan Nasional, a far-right nationalist coalition, won 73 seats. (A pair of East Malaysian coalitions won 28 of the remaining 35 seats.)

A coalition needs 112 seats — a simple majority — to form a government. None of them have it of their own. Pakatan Harapan’s leader, Anwar Ibrahim, said his team had enough support from other coalitions to get there, but did not specify with whom he was working. Muhyiddin Yassin, the former prime minister in charge of Perikatan Nasional, said his group was ready to welcome any party willing to accept its “principles”.

Coalition leaders must now convince the king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, that they have the best path forward. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, and the king must officially be sworn in as the next prime minister.

Experts say a government could be formed by the end of Sunday.

Aira Azhari, an analyst at the Institute for Democracy and Economics, a Malaysian think tank, said in this election, “the role of the monarch is very important”. “Representatives from all these alliances would come to him and say, ‘We have the numbers’ — and he would have to say, ‘OK, prove it.’”

If Pakatan Harapan, (the name means “Coalition of Hope”) can form the next government, it will be the return of Mr. Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who has served time in prison twice without the need for a new government. That was the result, he said. of politically motivated prosecutions.

But it is the powerful display of the Perikatan Nasional (National Coalition) that political analysts find most startling. A coalition that is more conservative than Barisan Nasional (National Front) and includes an Islamist political party won more than 40 seats on Saturday. The party’s emergence as a major power broker shows voters have become more polarized and many voters, including some young first-time voters, have become more polarized, experts say switch to the right.

The Islamic Party, known as PAS, has previously called for the Islamic theocracy in Malaysia. It started small but in recent years has grown into a national force by allying with other parties and promoting pro-Muslim policies.

Amidst the uncertainty, one thing is clear: Voters have once again rebuked the United Malays Organization, Barisan Nasional’s incumbent coalition leader. Before Saturday, UMNO’s only other loss was in 2018.

UMNO led Malaysia from its independence from Britain in 1957 until 2018, when voters overthrew the party following an international corruption scandal. Former party leader Najib Razak, who has been prime minister for nearly a decade, is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for charges related to the theft of $4.5 billion from government funds.

In the four years since Mr. Najib was ousted in 2018, there has been rapid change in the prime minister’s office. Mahathir Mohamad, an underage man who served as prime minister for more than two decades, replaced Mr. Najib. After his government fell, the king appointed Mr. Muhyiddin as prime minister without an election, but he left after his handling of the coronavirus pandemic failed. That clears the way for incumbent prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, an ally of Najib and a member of UMNO.

Saturday’s election is the first time Malaysians between the ages of 18 and 20 can vote, after the government lowered the minimum voting age in 2019. The change comes alongside a measure. method of creating automatic voter registration. Together, these steps have added more than 5 million new voters to the list, making around 21 million Malaysians eligible to vote overall.

The Election Commission said since 4 p.m. SaturdayA record number of voters, over 14 million, turned up.

In interviews, young voters said the economy and government corruption were among their top concerns. Most said they would vote for candidates who are part of Pakatan Harapan, which they identify as a coalition promoting change and racial equality.

Seth Naidu, a 22-year-old recruiter who voted for Pakatan Harapan, said: “I understand why some people are really indifferent. “But then we, the new generation, who are voting for the first time, have to do something.”

One change voters put forward concerns Mr. Mahathir, 97, who led UMNO for decades before turning to the opposition to defeat Mr. Najib. Known for his autocratic character for transforming Malaysia from an agricultural nation into a modern economy, Mahathir is running again for his parliamentary seat and backing a small coalition.

But for the first time he lost his re-election.

“We have seen Mahathir forced to retire,” Professor Chin said of the results on Saturday. “People just want him and his brand of politics gone.”

Mr. Mahathir’s administration successfully prosecuted Mr. Najib, but UNMO remains embroiled in bribery allegations. The current party chairman, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was recently cleared of some – but not all – of his own corruption allegations. Some experts have speculated that a victory for the party would allow Mr Najib and Mr Zahid to put the legal troubles behind them.

For some voters, the scandals are too much to ignore.

Sherilyn Ooi Su Ying, 32, the product manager who voted abroad in Berlin earlier this month, says she is not fascinated by any party or candidate for prime minister. However, she said she voted for Pakatan Harapan, “because I think there’s too much corruption on the other side.”

“Our country could do a lot better,” she said, “if we just had a clean government.”

Liani MK contributed reporting from Penang, Malaysia.

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