Malaysia’s long-governing coalition has won national elections to extend its 56 years of unbroken rule, fending off the strongest opposition it has ever faced.
The Election Commission reported that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s National Front coalition captured 112 of Malaysia’s 222 parliamentary seats to win a simple majority on Sunday. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s three-party alliance seized 57 seats. Other races were too close to call.
Mr. Najib urged all Malaysians to accept his coalition’s victory. “We have to show to the world that we are a mature democracy,” he said.
“Despite the extent of the swing against us, (the National Front) did not fall,” he said in a nationally televised news conference.
Mr. Anwar signalled the opposition might dispute the results, saying “irregularities” cost his alliance numerous seats with narrow margins. Within minutes of the National Front’s declaration of victory, thousands of Malaysian opposition supporters replaced their Facebook profile photos with black boxes in a coordinated sign of dismay.
The Election Commission estimated more than 10 million voted for a record turnout of 80 per cent of 13 million registered voters. They were also voting to fill vacancies in 12 of Malaysia’s 13 state legislatures.
Though it retained power, the National Front is weaker than it was at its peak in 2004, when it won 90 per cent of Parliament’s seats, and it remained unclear whether it would improve upon the 135 seats it held in Parliament before it disbanded this month ahead of the vote.
The coalition was anxious to secure a stronger five-year mandate and regain the two-thirds legislative majority that it held for years but lost in 2008.