13th general elections 5 May ended with narrow win by ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition in terms of parliamentary seats (133 out of 222), but with worst result for BN in 44 years as Anwar Ibrahim-led opposition coalition Pakatan won popular vote. Opposition 8 May began series of rallies to protest electoral fraud, first attended by almost 100,000. Police 23 May began crackdown of prominent opposition politicians under Sedition Act.
Demographic and social change, easing of authoritarian controls, a growing civil society and economic uncertainty are shaking the communal foundations of Malaysian politics and making the outcome of its coming election unusually unpredictable.
Originally published in Tempo