Malaysia's political parties gearing up for general elections

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Malaysia's political parties gearing up for general elections

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- In the first days of 2018, Malaysia's parties on both political spectrums are strengthening preparation for the general elections due in August.

Prime Minister Najib Razak unveiled the official campaign website for his ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional, or National Front, on Jan. 3 before chairing a meeting attended by component parties to discuss issues widely believed to be related to the elections.

Najib, who has been prime minister since 2009, is eyeing to regain the ruling coalition's long-held two-thirds majority that it lost in the previous two elections held in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

The main opposition alliance, Pakatan Harapan or Pact of Hope, held its convention meeting on Sunday when it named Mahathir Mohamad, who served as Malaysia's prime minister for 22 years, as its candidate for the premiership should it win the elections.

But the opposition alliance would be without one of its key components - the Pan Malaysian Islamic party (PAS), compared with the past two elections. PAS has stated its intention of heading to elections alone.

Malaysia's Hong Leong Bank Research said in a recent report that the political landscape change amongst the opposition will likely result in heightened three-corner fight, which could benefit the ruling coalition.

Ta Securities expects a "fiercely contested" general election. It said the ruling coalition would have to win a stronger mandate than before to make it easier to cope with post-election blues and instill greater investor confidence in the government and the economy.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan of Malaysia's Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs told Xinhua earlier that cost of living could be one of the key detrimental issues in the upcoming elections.

Despite M alaysia's economic growth has outperformed forecasts in 2017, Wan Saiful believed that most Malaysians are struggling amid the rising cost of living.

"If the opposition can capitalize on anger against the rising costs of living, they might be able to make a mark," he said.

In the 2018 budget, Prime Minister Najib announced several initiatives including cash handouts for lower income households.

The term of the current parliament ends on June 24 and an election must be held within 60 days. But it is widely expected in Malaysia that Najib would seek to dissolve parliament after the Chinese New Year in mid-February.

Source: Google News Malaysia | Netizen 24 Malaysia

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