The Standoff

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Malaysia’s king will pick the country’s next prime minister after Saturday’s general elections produced a hung parliament, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The monarch, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said the decision came after the two main contenders did not secure a majority in parliament. He added that politicians also failed to create a coalition needed for a majority.

The final tally of the weekend’s election showed that neither of the large political alliances had secured a majority in parliament, Bloomberg added.

The reformist, multi-ethnic Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim took 82 seats in the 220-seat legislature. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s pro-Malay, Islamist alliance, Perikatan Nasional (PN), secured 73 seats.

The former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) emerged as the kingmaker with its chief Zahid Hamidi saying it had yet to decide which alliance to back. BN officials said that they would not support either of the candidates.

It is now up to the constitutional monarch, who serves primarily as a ceremonial figure but has the authority to appoint whomever he believes will command a majority.

The delay is likely to prolong Malaysia’s years of political instability. Since the last general election in 2018, no prime minister has remained in power for more than 22 months.

As politicians scramble to form a new government and appoint a prime minister, questions remain about the makeup of the upcoming administration.

Muhyiddin’s alliance includes an Islamist party that previously called for the implementation of Shariah law in Malaysia. Its electoral gains have spooked some investors, as well as pushed stocks related to gaming and alcohol to slump on Monday.

But apart from the hung legislature, the elections also saw the defeat of the 97-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Al Jazeera wrote.

It was the first electoral defeat in more than 50 years for the aging politician, who governed Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and again from 2018 to 2020.

Observers noted that Mahathir’s defeat will likely end the career of one of Asia’s most enduring politicians.

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