Polling stations close in Malaysia's tight electoral race

Polling stations closed in Malaysia after voters cast their ballots in a tightly contested general election held on Saturday, November 19. Polls have predicted no clear winner, meaning that the election may fail to end the recent phase of political instability in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) bloc led by veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is forecast to take the largest share of seats in parliament but fail to reach the majority needed to form a government.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob's ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition and another bloc led by former premier Muhyiddin Yassin are other leading contenders. Muhyiddin's alliance was a junior partner in Ismail's coalition government, and the two could come together again to block Anwar.

Malaysia's 21.1 million eligible voters, including 6 million new ones, will choose 222 lawmakers for the lower house of parliament. The race was fluid, with opinion polls showing significant numbers of undecided voters in the days before the vote.

Polls closed at 6 pm (1000 GMT), with results expected to be announced later in the evening.

Some 70 pct. of voters had cast their ballots by 4 pm., the Election Commission said. Voter turnout in the previous election was one of the highest at 82 pct., but given the bigger pool of voters in this poll, Saturday's turnout had already surpassed the prior election by nearly 2 million voters.