Malaysia holds state elections in first test of Anwar government

Bangkok, Aug 12 (EFE).- Around 9.7 million Malaysians were called to the polls on Saturday in six of the country’s 13 states in the first test of the popularity of Anwar Ibrahim’s government.

Ballots were being held in Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu to elect the members of their respective regional chambers.

According to polls published by local media, the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition is expected to maintain current control of three of the states, while the rest are expected to remain in the hands of the opposition Perikatan Nasional alliance.

During the intense two-week electoral campaign, the opposition charged hard against the policies of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (who came to power in November) over the country’s economic stagnation.

Another of the keys to these state elections is the multi-ethnic component of Malaysia, with some policies of Perikatan Nasional, favorable to the Malay population that makes up 69 percent of the 34 million people in the country, aimed at attracting the Muslim population.

For its part, the government coalition, more progressive and popular among the Chinese (23 percent) and Indian (7 percent) minorities, promotes unity over fears of national division to maintain its votes, and seeks to keep the support it had when it came to power. EFE


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