Malaysia’s election has no clear winner

The main contenders will now have to negotiate to try to secure a majority.
Malaysia's election has no clear winner

Malaysia’s next leader is uncertain after Saturday’s election gave no party a majority in Parliament.

Parties will now need to negotiate with one another to form a governing alliance. There are two main candidates to become Prime Minister.

Here’s what you need to know.

Malaysian politics

Malaysian politics has been dominated for decades by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

UMNO and its allies were voted out of power in 2018 after a corruption scandal. Najib Razak, the party’s leader and then Prime Minister, was accused of corrupt use of public money, and is now in prison.

Najib was replaced as Prime Minister by then 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamed, a former UMNO leader who now says the party are “criminals”. Mahathir’s government fell apart in 2020, and UMNO returned as part of a governing alliance.

Election results

UMNO, under its leader and outgoing PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob, had its worst ever performance: its alliance won only 30 out of 220 seats up for election.

The main opposition group, Pakatan Harapan (PH), has 82 seats. It is led by Anwar Ibrahim.

A third group, Perikatan Nasional (PN), led by Muhyiddin Yassin, has 73 seats. It was once part of UMNO’s alliance but has become a force in its own right, and is associated with Islamic nationalism.

Who will be PM?

112 seats are needed for a majority. PH and PN are the closest, but neither can govern alone.

The respective leaders, Anwar and Muhyiddin, have ruled out working with each other. Both say they have enough support to be PM.

The support of UMNO and its allies is likely to be crucial. UMNO’s President has not indicated who he is more likely to support.

Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has asked the parties to submit their preferences for prime minister. His role is usually symbolic, but he has played a more active role in recent political struggles, and says he plans to make the final decision.

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