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Voters cast ballots in Malaysia electoral tests

Voters cast ballots in Malaysia electoral tests

Malaysians voted Thursday in two special elections where a victory for the government may embolden Prime Minister Najib Razak to call early national polls.
Analysts predict the ruling National Front coalition will win at least one of the polls and possibly both, boosting Najib's efforts to win back support from voters upset over alleged entrenched corruption, economic mismanagement and racial discrimination.
Up for grabs are a traditional National Front stronghold _ the Parliamentary seat in the remote Batu Sapi constituency on Borneo island _ and a state legislature seat in Galas in the rural Kelantan state. The state is run by the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which is part of an opposition coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim.
The outcome will not change the balance of power in either Parliament or Kelantan state, and the opposition has downplayed expectations, especially in Batu Sapi. But a surprise upset or narrow margins for the National Front could undermine Najib's economic and social reform plans and discourage him from calling elections next year or in early 2012 before they are due in mid-2013.
"Both elections are in some sense a bellwether," said Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent research firm Merdeka Center. "If the National Front wins well, they should feel safe ... and (national) elections will come sooner rather than later."
The elections were called because of the death of the incumbents.
The opposition alliance has won eight of 11 similar by-elections in the last two and a half years and won an unprecedented number of state and Parliament seats in the 2008 general elections.


Updated : 2021-09-21 17:22 GMT+08:00