Malaysia will be holding its 15th General Election (GE15) on 19 November, the Election Commission announced on Thursday (20 Oct).
The candidate nominations will occur on 5 November, giving the political parties a 14-day campaigning period.
Last Monday (10 Oct), Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob declared the dissolution of the parliament after attaining the consent of the country’s monarch, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah.
Hence, the next general election must be held within 60 days of the Parliament’s dissolution.
Approximately 21.1 million Malaysians are eligible to vote in the upcoming election, which is five million more than the 2018 Election, largely because the government has lowered the minimum voting age to 18 years old from 21.
However, voting is not compulsory in Malaysia.
Federal and State Elections
All 222 parliamentary seats will be there for taking, but only three out of 13 will be holding their state legislative elections concurrently with the federal elections.
The three states are Pahang, Perlis and Perak, which are all controlled by the Barisan Nasional (BN).
On the other hand, the states of Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Johor have had their state elections in the past two years, and three of them were triggered by party defections.
The other six are led by either Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia.
The fact that 10 states have chosen not to hold their state legislative elections is honestly reflective of the political instability that has staggered the country since 2020.
Truth to be told, the GE15 is happening during a less-than-optimal time period; Malaysia’s annual monsoon season typically happens in mid-November, which brings about heavy rain and flooding.
Just last December, several states were stuck by the floods, and it killed dozens while displacing hundreds.
The haphazard and badly thought-out response from Ismail Sabri’s government only served to further shake the faith that the people had for its government.
Sabah will be having their midterm election on the same day, since its by-election—which is meant to fill up the seats that were vacant between the general elections.
The commission expects a turnout rate of around 70. This is significantly lower than the registered turnout of 82% in 2018.
Although Pakatan Harapan only managed to hold onto its parliament majority for two years before it was embroiled in a constitutional crisis, their historic victory had broken Barisan Nasional’s, and by extension, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)’s 14 election long winning streak.
UMNO had been in power since Malaysia was given more autonomy for self-governance in 1955.
Its loss in 2018 proved that BN is not undefeatable.
For GE15, BN will be challenged by two major political coalitions—Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional.
Other notable political blocs are two-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Gerakan Tanah Air and the youth-based party Malaysian United Democratic Alliance.
Barisan National, which is composed of UMNO, Bersatu and other smaller parties representing ethnic-Chinese and Indian minorities, will be trying to regain their federal power.
The ruling political parties from Sabah and Sarawak – Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah – will be crucial in this election as they could enter post-electoral alliances to tip the majority into any coalition’s favour when forming the new federal government.
After all, Sarawak holds 31 seats and Sabah has 25 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat Parliament, nearly one-fifth of the available seats.
The 15th General Election will be interesting in the sense that it will be a chance for Malaysia to right the political turmoil that has plagued it since 2020.
In the past three years, Malaysia has seen three prime ministers and five states had to go through administration changes due to party defections.
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