Success in Sun State is likely to strengthen the post of Prime Minister as Anwar Ibrahim faces leadership challenge.
The ruling coalition of Malaysian Prime Minister Muhaidin Yassin has won a key state election, which was widely seen as a vote on a seven-month administration.
Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, but said that the victory in Sabah could strengthen Muhaidin’s position and that a parliamentary majority was needed to oust the prime minister this week.
The Muhaidin’s Perigadan National (PN) coalition and its allies won 38 of the 73 seats to be won in Saturday’s election, narrowly taking control of a government previously controlled by the opposition.
Muhyiddin had previously said victory in the Sabah would lead to early national elections aimed at ending uncertainty about the stability of his ruling coalition, which has a two-seat majority in parliament.
Analysts had warned of a defeat in the eastern Sabah state, as Muhaidin would mark the end of his split coalition government.
Muhaidin came to power in March after forming an alliance with the opposition following the resignation of his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad.
Muhaidin’s opponents have accused him of stealing power by changing alliances without a ballot box, and his allies have been pushing for months to call early national elections to secure a strong mandate for him.
Although the result did not directly affect the balance of power at the national level, it was a major test of Muhaidin’s popularity.
If he had done worse, coalition partners could have withdrawn support for his government and forced a national referendum.
The first test
But Bridget Welsh, a Malaysian expert at the University of Nottingham, warned that Muhyiddin’s harassment was not far off.
“He passed the first major election, but rarely,” he told the AFP news agency. “He was a man at the time of the loan.”
Earlier this week, opposition leader Anwar claimed that Muhaidin’s coalition had collapsed, claiming he had the support of a majority of lawmakers.
However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat President Conte’s government.
Adib Salkabli, director of political risk advisers, told Reuters that after the victory in Sabah, Muhaidin’s coalition could “now confidently lead the federal coalition in a general election.”
“He will use the victory to dismiss any challenge to the federal leadership.”
The power struggle comes as the Malaysian economy recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Muhaidin has announced a stimulus package of 305 billion ringgit (.173.16 billion), which includes additional measures announced three days before the Sabah election.