The days of political stalemate are over, and the King of Malaysia appoints a Prime Minister

After days of political chaos, Malaysia has a new prime minister, the fifth in less than five years.

The country is now counting on a veteran politician to restore political stability as it leads a polarized electorate — split between a faction that sees itself as modern and multicultural, and another driven by a conservative Islamist base — in a post-pandemic world.

This is the task awaiting Anwar Ibrahim, 75, who was appointed prime minister by the king on Thursday. It was the culmination of a stunning comeback for Mr. Anwar, whose career included a stint as deputy prime minister, two prison terms deemed politically motivated, and finally the role of longtime leader of the opposition.

The appointment ended a crisis that had engulfed Malaysia for nearly a week: Saturday’s national elections, the first since 2018, led to the first hung parliament in Malaysia’s history. None of the three main groups competing in the election won the simple majority needed to form government in the 222-seat parliament.

It was not immediately clear who Mr. Anwar’s multi-ethnic coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Coalition of Hope), would team up to form the government.

The group advanced in Saturday’s elections with 82 seats. In second place was the Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance), whose success was largely due to one of its coalition members, the Malaysian Islamic Party, a conservative party that advocated an Islamic theocracy in Malaysia. The Malaysian Islamic Party, as the party is known, won 49 seats alone.

Barisan Nasional, the current coalition that includes Mr Anwar’s former party, the UMNO, was far behind, at 30. The election was seen as a final rebuke to UMNO, which has long been embroiled in corruption allegations. Mr. Anwar had actively campaigned on the public’s desire for change from the UMNO government, vowing that he would “not bring with it the corrupt and greedy cultures we had before”.

The final decision rests with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, and the King has the right to name the Prime Minister in the event of inconclusive elections.

For five days, the coalitions were locked in closed negotiations between themselves and the king. On Thursday, the king met with the rulers of the Malay states to resolve the crisis, and the palace issued a statement.

“The truth is that endless political turmoil cannot burden the people when the country needs a stable government capable of flourishing the economic landscape and developing the country,” the palace said.

Mr. Anwar will be sworn in at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Liani Member of Knesset Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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