Voting ended in the local legislative elections in the Malaysian state of Sabah, which is gaining great importance, due to its direct impact on the status and stability of the central government.
In this election, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces his biggest political test since taking office, as analysts say he desperately needs to win to consolidate his weak grip on power.
This comes in light of political ambiguity facing the country, as a result of the central government not having a comfortable majority in parliament.
Observers have warned that the defeat of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s allies in the local elections in Sabah state in Borneo will lead to a decline in support among his partners in the government coalition that was formed 7 months ago, which will increase pressure for early national elections.
Problems and anxieties
Adding to his problems, the elections come just days after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim launched an attempt to overthrow him, claiming that he had mobilized enough support from MPs to take power.
Malaysia has suffered political turmoil since the collapse of the reformist government in February, led by Mahathir Mohamad, amid bitter internal fighting.
Muhyiddin seized power without elections. He leads a coalition backed by a party mired in scandal, but his administration has only a slim majority in parliament and critics say it is illegitimate.
The Sabah elections were called, after an ally of Muhyiddin attempted to take over the opposition-controlled local government. But instead of ceding power, the prime minister dissolved the state assembly.
Effects and Balances
There are 1.1 million people eligible to vote for 73 seats in Parliament in the state at the northeastern tip of Borneo, which is covered with woods and is home to a large indigenous group.
The result will not directly affect the balance of power at the national level, but it is a major test of Muhyiddin’s popularity.
“He needs to win to prove that his great popularity can be translated into a vote on the ground,” Ibrahim Sufyan, head of the Merdeka Center for opinion polls, told AFP.
“If he suffers a heavy defeat, the government will likely collapse.”