In the parliamentary elections in Malaysia on Saturday, a few hours after the polling stations closed, there were signs of a possible victory for the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope, PH). However, late in the evening (local time) the race had not yet been decided.
After counting 76 percent of the votes, the PH won 60 of the 222 seats in Parliament. The other opposition alliance Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance, PN) had 48 seats, the previous government alliance Barisan Nasional (National Front, BN) had 24 seats. A simple majority requires 112 seats.
Lots of young voters
21 million of the roughly 32 million Malaysians were eligible to vote. Participation was very high, but the final figures were not yet available in the evening. A particularly large number of young people could be seen queuing throughout the day. Reason: For the first time, all citizens from the age of 18 were entitled to vote - before that, the minimum age was 21 years.
The political landscape in Malaysia is characterized by turmoil - there have been three different heads of government in the past four years. The previous prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, dissolved parliament in October after a rift between his party UMNO and its allies and announced new elections. Actually, the country should not have voted again until next year.
Heavy rain hampered the ballot
Despite protests from politicians and citizens, the electoral commission had scheduled the election date in the middle of the rainy season. Thousands of Malaysians have had to leave their homes in recent days due to heavy rainfall and flooding. Many of those affected announced that they would not vote because of the situation.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is now 97, also took part in the vote to defend his seat in parliament. He was Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003. When he reigned again from 2018 to 2020, he was the oldest prime minister in the world. Although he is not officially running for the post, he recently stated that he would be available for the post "if there are no suitable candidates".