The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition follows opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition and alliance led by ex-Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Early polls in hotly contested Malaysia general election indicate a close battle between a coalition led by former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the multiracial coalition of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – which is dominated by his United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party – faced an apparent wave of support for Muhyiddin’s Malaysian Perikatan Nasional or National Alliance in several seats.

At 18:00 GMT, the Election Commission had announced the results for 150 of the 222 parliamentary seats. Opposition leader Anwar’s Alliance led with 50 seats, while Muhyiddin’s alliance was a close second with 48 seats.

The corruption-ridden Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain until 2018, could still come to power depending on post-election alliances.

Among the main losers of the election was former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who leads a separate Malaysian movement at the age of 97. Mahathir came fourth in a five-way battle in his long-held constituency on the resort island of Langkawi, the election commission said.

As Malaysians set out to vote in a country that has had three prime ministers in as many years, opinion polls predicted Anwar’s alliance would win the most seats in parliament, but would not win the majority needed to form a government.

But Muhyiddin’s new alliance, which includes a Malaysian conservative party and an Islamist party that has touted Islamic law, made strong gains.

Former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Perikatan Nasional Chairman Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Noorainee Abdul Rahman
Former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Perikatan Nasional Chairman Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Noorainee Abdul Rahman cast their ballots in the general election in Muar, in Johor, Malaysia, on Saturday. [Malaysian Department of Information/Nazri Rapaai/Handout via Reuters]

Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional was a junior partner in Ismail’s coalition government. If the result is close, the two can reunite to block Anwar.

If Anwar lands the top job, it would mark the end of a remarkable journey for a politician who has evolved in 25 years from heir apparent to the prime minister, to a prisoner convicted of sodomy, to the country’s leading opposition figure.

Supporters of Perikatan Nasional watch a video stream for live results of Malaysia's 15th General Election at a hotel in Malaysia's Shah Alam
Supporters of Perikatan Nasional watch a video stream for live results of Malaysia’s 15th General Election at a hotel in Shah Alam, Malaysia on November 19, 2022 [Lai Seng Sin/Reuters]

At least 70 percent of Malaysia’s 21.1 million eligible voters had cast their votes at 4 p.m. local Pacific time (08:00 GMT), the Election Commission said. It has not given the final count.

Turnout in the previous election was one of the highest at 82 percent, but given the larger number of voters in this poll, Saturday’s turnout had already surpassed the previous election by nearly 2 million voters.

Higher turnouts tend to favor the opposition.



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