Historically tight Malaysian election heads to close; hung parliament likely

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Nov. 19 (UPI) — Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim‘s Pakatan Harapan coalition is neck-and-neck with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Perikatan Nasional coalition in Malaysia’s general election, early results indicated Saturday.

More than 900 candidates are running for 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s lower house of parliament.

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The outcome will determine the composition of Malaysia’s fifth government in an as many years and tabulations indicated a hung parliament could be the result.

While pollsters forecast that Ibrahim’s allies would win the most seats without winning a simple majority, results from multiple constituencies were still too close to call as of late Saturday.

The election has seen strong turnout, with approximately 14.7 million of Malaysia’s 21 million voters showing up to cast ballots as of 4 p.m. The turnout recorded so far is numerically the highest in Malaysian history, beating the prior record of 12.4 million voters, set during the 2018 election.

While voter numbers are higher than ever before, the 70% of voters who turned up at polls is proportionally lower than the 82% who showed up in 2018. The statistical anomaly is the result of 6 million Malaysians becoming eligible when the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 during the intervening years.

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All but two of the constituencies have completed polling, while the vote was suspended in Baram, Sarawak, due to flooding. The death of Pakatan Harapan incumbent candidate Karupaiya Mutusami on Wednesday caused the election in Padang Serai, Kedah, to be postponed until Dec. 7.

The unlikelihood of any coalition winning a simple majority means that the next government will have to be formed via an agreement between coalitions.