Sunday, May 5, 2013

Malaysia vote will be tight, says survey

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5, 2013 AP

Malaysian politicians made a final campaign push as an independent survey showed Prime Minister Najib Razak's long-ruling coalition running neck and neck with the opposition alliance ahead of Sunday's general election.

A survey released by polling house Merdeka Center predicted Mr. Najib's National Front coalition could win 85 parliamentary seats, while a three-member opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim will take 89 seats. It said 46 seats were too close to call while two seats will go to smaller parties.

The National Front now holds 135 seats in the 222-member Parliament, while Mr. Anwar's People's Alliance has 75 seats after some lawmakers left in recent years to become independents.

If the opposition wins, it will mark a remarkable comeback for Mr. Anwar, a former Deputy Prime Minister who was fired in 1998 and subsequently jailed on corruption and sodomy charges that he claims were fabricated by his political enemies.

He was released from jail in 2004 and now leads the biggest threat to the National Front. Mr. Anwar's alliance surged into political prominence in 2008 elections when it won more than a third of seats in Parliament and gained control of several States.

The Merdeka Center poll, which interviewed 1,600 people between April 28 and May 2, showed 42 per cent agreed the opposition should be given a chance to govern while 41 per cent supported the National Front, which has been in power for 56 years. Four per cent of voters refused to respond while 13 per cent were undecided, it said. The poll's results have a margin of error of 2.45 per cent.

Mr. Najib (59), who is seeking his first mandate at the polls since becoming Prime Minister in 2009, has taken on the reform mantle to counter the opposition.

He reiterated on Friday that the National Front has a "good chance" of regaining its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Mr. Anwar also said he is confident of winning because of rising support among younger voters.

"People have enough of this semi-authoritarian rule, of complete [government] control of the media, of strong arrogance, of power and endemic corruption," Mr. Anwar told The Associated Press this week.
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