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Malaysians wave flags during the 65th National Day celebrations parade in Kuala Lumpur.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

Will elections bring more political stability to Malaysia?

Malaysia will hold early elections on Nov. 19­­, the government announced Thursday. Polls were not due until September 2023, but Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had come under intense pressure to bring them forward from senior figures in the ruling United Malays National Organization party and its Barisan Nasional partners. Several of these face criminal prosecutions they hope a new government would quash, while others argued elections should be held earlier to deprive the opposition of time to regroup.

Malaysia has gone through significant political instability — and three prime ministers – since the shock 2018 election defeat of UMNO, which had ruled the country since independence. Amid much greater parliamentary fragmentation and shifting political alliances, the country was led by two other coalitions – Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional – until BN returned to power in 2021 with Ismail’s premiership. BN and PN have governed Malaysia together since 2020, but PN was previously the senior partner whereas BN now is.

Will the upcoming polls result in greater political stability? Will they make much difference in the policy outlook? Eurasia Group analysts Peter Mumford and Fadli Yusoff explain.

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What We're Watching: Another bad day for Boris, NATO-Russia talks on the cards, Malaysian corruption scandal

Boris’ horrible, no good, very bad day. Boris Johnson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, sometimes he appears to relish it. But not this time. As British authorities weigh whether to impose unpopular restrictions amid a surge in omicron cases, a video has surfaced of top Downing Street aides tastelessly joking about flouting lockdown rules last Christmas by gathering for a holiday party. At the time, Britons were forbidden to gather with friends and family during the holiday season, let alone say goodbye to dying relatives. What’s more, Downing Street has been accused of trying to cover up the shindig – a “wine and cheese” night, according to the video – until this damning footage materialized. Johnson says he is “sickened and furious” about it, and a top aide has since resigned. (Johnson himself has not been accused of attending the party.) Meanwhile, London police say they are looking into the case. The timing is pretty awful for Johnson, who is already facing party backlash over a series of blunders in recent months, as well as his perceived failure to address Brexit-related shortages of gasoline and goods. Currently, 55 percent of Britons disapprove of his leadership.

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Umno leader's call for snap polls in Malaysia stirs new infighting

January 07, 2021 9:13 AM

At least two ministers have pushed back against calls from Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to hold a general election.

Umno says will contest in all seats it won at Malaysia's 2018 polls

January 03, 2021 7:17 PM

The 15th general election is not due to be called until 2023, but Umno has said snap polls should be held.

Umno, PAS, Bersatu agree on Umno assemblyman for Perak Menteri Besar

December 09, 2020 7:22 PM

The former chief minister's ouster had exposed a rift between Bersatu and Umno.

Umno-DAP's unlikely romance in Perak could leave PM Muhyiddin jilted

December 09, 2020 5:00 AM

While all eyes were glued to the tabling of Malaysia's crucial budget in early November, the seeds of what could be of greater consequence to the nation's seemingly unending political intrigue were being sown up north.

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