Queues formed outside schools and other polling stations in Malaysia as voting began Saturday in crucial state elections, where Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim‘s government is seeking to shore up its hold against a powerful Islamic opposition.
Local Elections Have No Direct Impact On Centre. But …
Around 9.8 million people, or about half the Muslim-majority country’s electorate, are eligible to cast votes to elect 245 assembly members in six states, including Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.
The six states contribute over half of Malaysia’s GDP. While local elections have no direct impact on the federal government, the result could indicate whether Anwar’s multi-coalition government can last a full five years.
The two contending coalitions currently control three states each. If the opposition party has a strong showing in Saturday’s polls or otherwise takes control of states led by Anwar’s administration, analysts say it could substantially affect Malaysia’s political stability.
Polls Serving As Barometer Of Public Sentiment
Voting concludes at 1000 GMT and the outcome will be released later Saturday. In a Facebook video uploaded Friday, the prime minister called on Malaysians to cast their votes wisely and choose unity for a strong economy and a stable future.
He said a win for his unity government will shield the country from religious and racial bigotry. The strong opposition comprising Malay-Muslim political parties has criticised Anwar, claiming the leader isn’t doing enough to protect the country’s Islamic values.
The crucial state elections are expected to serve as a barometer of public sentiment for the ruling government against the opposition. Before Anwar, Malaysia had three prime ministers since 2018 after lawmakers switched support for political mileage.