Facts and figures about Malaysia's general elections

The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Facts and figures on Malaysia’s 12th general election since independence from Britain in 1957. The Election Commission will determine the polling date in a few days after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dissolved Parliament on Wednesday.
PROCEDURE: General elections must be held at least once every five years, but the prime minister can ask the king to dissolve Parliament before his mandate expires. Elections must be conducted no later than 60 days after the dissolution of Parliament.
Candidates in the upcoming polls will vie for 222 seats in the lower house of Parliament and about 500 state assembly seats. Elections run simultaneously for the federal and state legislatures.
COMPOSITION: Abdullah’s National Front coalition has formed the federal government since 1957 and currently comprises 14 political parties. It controlled 199 — or 91 percent — of the 219 seats in the dissolved lower house of Parliament. Opposition groups held 19 seats, while one seat was independent. The Election Commission is expected to add three new seats for this election, based on redrawn constituency lines.
The National Front also controls all of but one of Malaysia’s 13 states. The opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party has ruled northeastern Kelantan state since 1990.
VOTERS: There are 10.9 million eligible voters in this nation of 27 million people. Voting is not mandatory, and recent voter turnouts typically ranged between 70 and 75 percent.
SYSTEM: Candidates’ names and party symbols appear on the ballot and voters mark their choice. The candidate who gets the most votes wins in that constituency.
Lower house parliamentary seats are more important, as the party or coalition that has a majority forms the federal government. The prime minister is the head of the winning coalition, and a two-thirds parliamentary majority allows the government to change the Constitution.