Malaysia concludes key state elections

Malaysia has concluded key state elections to determine the governments for six states, with the status quo being in place as each coalition held onto states that it governed before the elections.

The states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang have been won by the current federal government coalition made up of Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, the country's election commission said following the counting of votes late on Saturday.

The states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah have been won by the opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional which had control of these states prior to the elections.

Six of Malaysia's 13 states held elections this week because the local governments refused to call for early polls at the same time as general elections in November.

Nearly 10 million voters, or about half Malaysia's electorate, elected 245 assembly members in six states, where more than 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product came from.

The election will not directly impact Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's two-thirds majority in parliament, but was widely seen as a referendum on his nine-month-old coalition government, which won the most seats but failed to win a majority after November's general election.

"The status quo is a huge relief for Anwar and his government, otherwise he would have been in real political trouble if he had lost one of the three states his coalition controls. Now he has some room for real reform," said James Chin, professor of Asian Studies from University of Tasmania.

Opinion surveys conducted ahead of Saturday's polling had shown strong concerns among voters over economic issues such as rising prices, slowing growth and the weakening ringgit currency.

Responding to the results of the elections, Anwar told reporters the ruling coalition would "continue working hard to serve the people in line with our desire to build Malaysia."

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (C) speaks during a press conference after the release of state election results at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 12, 2023. /CFP)

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