Malaysians vote in six state elections seen as referendum on Anwar

A lady casts her vote at a polling station in Malaysia’s Selangor state on Saturday (Mohd RASFAN)

Malaysians in six states went to the polls Saturday to vote for state meeting members in elections broadly seen as a barometer of assist for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s unity authorities.

Whereas the elections are unlikely to right away have an effect on Anwar’s present two-thirds majority in parliament, analysts stated his maintain on energy might weaken if his Pakatan Harapan coalition suffers a setback, particularly amongst Malay Muslim voters within the largely Islamic Southeast Asian nation.

Polls closed at 6:00 pm (1000 GMT), with the outcomes anticipated to be recognized later Saturday.

Voter turnout was between 56-70 % of the greater than 9.7 million registered voters as of 4:00 pm, the Election Fee stated.

The outcomes for the 245 meeting seats at stake within the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan are anticipated to be recognized inside hours.

Of the six, Anwar’s coalition at the moment holds Negeri Sembilan and the nation’s two richest states: Selangor, house of Malaysia’s greatest port, and Penang, which hosts a thriving semiconductor trade.

The opposite three states are managed by an influential rural-based Malay Muslim alliance led by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Malays account for two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million inhabitants, which incorporates giant ethnic Chinese language and Indian minorities.

Anwar, in an attraction on Fb on the eve of the polls, urged voters to offer his coalition a “clear and powerful mandate… to deliver a greater agenda for all races on this nation”.

The 76-year-old, who had campaigned on a promise of reforms in final yr’s basic elections, is pushing for a extra inclusive society the place different races are allowed higher participation, whereas his opponents need primacy of the Malay Muslim majority.

– ‘Dire’ penalties –

Opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional has expressed confidence in making additional inroads.

One key Perikatan member is the Malaysian Islamic Get together, or PAS, which goals to create a theocratic state.

Having gained 49 parliamentary seats, or greater than 20 % of the 222-member parliament final yr, PAS has in latest months stepped up racial and spiritual rhetoric to shore up assist.

“I really feel fairly excited and I hope Perikatan can win once more on this space,” stated housewife Jamilah Baharin, 48, who voted in Kedah state, a PAS stronghold.

PAS spokesman Khairil Nizam Khirudin advised AFP that Anwar “promised loads however has not delivered”.

James Chin, a Malaysia skilled on the College of Tasmania in Australia, stated the election was being watched for the extent of assist reformist Anwar attracts amongst Malay Muslims.

He warned of “dire” penalties if Anwar loses even a single state.

“The primary direct implication is that he can’t undertake any main reforms or elementary structural reforms to the economic system or to politics,” Chin advised AFP.

“This can drive his hand and Anwar (could have) to undertake a extra pro-Malay and pro-Islamic coverage. Meaning the tip of reforms.”

A loss might immediate MPs to shift allegiances over the following 12 months, “placing a query mark about the way forward for Anwar because the prime minister”, Chin added.

A win, nonetheless, would give Anwar “sufficient political capital to hold out actual reforms”, Chin stated.

Anwar turned prime minister final November following a political deadlock that noticed his occasion win probably the most seats within the basic election however fall in need of the outright majority wanted to kind a authorities.

That compelled him into an alliance with former foes within the United Malays Nationwide Organisation to safe a two-thirds parliamentary majority and approval from Malaysia’s king to kind a “unity authorities”.

The coalition has up to now held collectively in a rustic that had seen three management turnovers in as a few years after scandal-tainted Najib Razak was voted out as prime minister in 2018 over large corruption at state fund 1MDB.

jsm/mba/sco

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