The Malaysia Surprise

We’d love to tell you that Tuesday Signal author Alex Kliment profiled 92-year-old Mahathir Mohammad earlier this week because we knew he was about to be elected Malaysia’s next prime minister. Not quite. But we certainly suspected this was a story worth your time, whatever the election outcome. As it happens, Mahathir won, and the ruling party has been voted out for the first time in independent Malaysia’s 61-year history.

There are many ways to look at the outcome, but for now we’ll focus on this: This is another country where voters moved a seemingly immovable object, a coalition with a decades-long stranglehold on Malaysia’s politics, in favor of something new.

Mahathir is no fresh face. He created modern Malaysian politics. But he has promised to pass power to opposition leader, and former nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim, who awaits release from prison next month and a chance to win a seat in parliament via a special election.

That political handover, if and when it happens, will be even more interesting than this one.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.