The counting of votes has started in Malaysia's parliamentary elections. The polling stations in the Southeast Asian kingdom closed at 6:00 p.m. sharp (local time) on Saturday. There was a high level of participation. According to the authorities, almost half of the approximately 21 million eligible voters had cast their votes just a few hours after the start of the vote.
A particularly large number of young people could be seen in the queues. Reason: For the first time, all citizens from the age of 18 are entitled to vote, before that the minimum age was 21 years.
Many shared photos of their inked fingers on social media to encourage others to go to the polls too. Experts expected a close race between the grand political coalitions. The first results should be known in the late evening (local time).
Three heads of government in four years
The political landscape in Malaysia is characterized by turmoil - there have been three different heads of government in the past four years. 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 would not have voted again until next year.
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.