BN now faces the fight of its life against Pakatan Rakyat led by Anwar Ibrahim.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia today announced a general election for May 5, setting a long-awaited date for polls tipped to be its closest ever as the long-ruling government seeks to hold off a surging opposition.
Speaking a week after Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolved Parliament, Election Commission chairman Aziz Yusof said the two-week official campaign period would kick off on April 20.
The United Malays National Organisation (Umno), which has controlled Malaysia through coalition governments since independence in 1957, faces a formidable opposition that promises to end corruption, cronyism and authoritarian rule.
Under Umno, multi-ethnic Malaysia became a regional economic success story while enjoying relative harmony between majority ethnic Malays and its sizeable minorities.
Najib hopes to extend the government’s unbeaten run in the polls by focusing on his steady economic stewardship and a torrent of cash handouts and other sweeteners to the public.
“This election is a choice between sticking with a competent, reform-minded government and risking our prosperity on a fractious, inexperienced opposition,” a spokesman for Najib told AFP after the polling date was announced.