Malaysian leaders kick off election campaigns

STORY: Polls and analysts say no single party or coalition will win a simple majority in the 222-seat parliament, and that opposing alliances will have to come together to form the next government.

Around 21 million Malaysians are eligible to vote in the Nov. 19 election, with inflation and recent political instability on the top of their minds in the backdrop of a slowing economy. Malaysia has had three premiers since the last election in 2018.

Rival coalitions are headed by Ismail, former premier Muhyiddin and long-time opposition leader Anwar. There are several other parties in the running, including the Pejuang Party founded by another former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, a factor that is expected to split the votes more than ever before.

The election comes as the Malaysian economy is expected to ease due to a global slowdown, impeding a recovery from a pandemic-induced slump. Inflation is also rising, with the Malaysian central bank increasing interest rates this week for the fourth straight time.