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Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Last elections module

A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name (generic / translated) Parlimen / Parliament
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Dewan Rakyat / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Dewan Negara / Senate
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 8 March 2008
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives following premature dissolution of this body on 13 February 2008. Elections had previously taken place on 21 March 2004.
On 13 February 2008 King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abi dissolved Parliament on the advice of Prime Minister Badawi Abdullah paving the way for early elections to the House of Representatives to be held on 8 March. The elections were constitutionally due by March 2009 but have traditionally been held in the fourth year of parliament's five-year term in this country of 26 million inhabitants (66% ethnic Malay 25% ethnic Chinese and 8% ethnic Indian).

In the elections held in March 2004 the National Front (BN) the multi-ethnic 14-party coalition that includes Prime Minister Abdullah's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) had won 199 of the 219 seats at stake its eleventh consecutive victory. The opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) which has the support of the country's ethnic Chinese had won 12 seats. The Alternative Front composed of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) and the People's Justice Party (Parti KeADILan Rakyat PKR) had won seven seats.

Mr. Anwar Ibrahim a former deputy prime minister criticized the decision to hold early elections which would take place one month before the ban on his participation in elections was due to expire. An outspoken critic of former prime minister Mr. Mohamad Mahathir was convicted of corrupt practices and sodomy in a controversial 1999 court decision and barred from running for election until 15 April 2008. His wife and PKR president Mrs. Wan Azizah said that if she was elected in the 2008 elections she would step down so that Mr. Ibrahim would be able to contest the ensuing by-election.

The 2008 elections to the enlarged 222-seat House of Representatives were held amid increasing ethnic and religious tension and concern over crime rising food and fuel prices. In November 2007 over 10 000 ethnic Indians led street protests insisting that they were victims of official discrimination. The 37-year-old affirmative action programme favouring ethnic Malay applications for government jobs and educational institutions was reportedly unpopular among ethnic Chinese and Indians. The Government argued that the monthly income of ethnic Indians was higher than the national average.

Prime Minister Abdullah called on voters to renew the BN's mandate arguing that its numerous programmes had reduced poverty from 60 per cent at the time of independence to the current 5.7 per cent. He emphasized that the BN had the necessary experience and capability to further develop the country.

Before the 2008 elections the DAP and the PKR agreed not to field candidates in the same constituencies so as to avoid splitting the opposition vote. The DAP aimed to prevent a two-thirds majority of the ruling parties in the Parliament and said it would abolish the system whereby Senators are appointed. Mr. Ibrahim's legacy reportedly boosted support for the PKR which ran on an anti-corruption platform. Many opposition candidates conveyed their campaign messages via the Internet.

The Election Commission introduced transparent plastic ballot boxes for the first time. Its original plan to use indelible ink to prevent multiple voting was cancelled at the last minute a decision criticized by the PKR. The Election Commission announced that the decision had been taken to ensure smooth conduct of elections.

74.72 per cent of the nearly 11 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

The BN remained the largest force in the new parliament with 140 seats but failed to secure a two-thirds majority its worst result since the country's independence in 1957. Former prime minister Mahathir called for Mr. Abdullah's resignation a demand the latter rejected.

The opposition parties took a total of 47.8 per cent of the votes nationwide. The number of seats controlled by the opposition jumped from 19 to 82. The PKR won 31 followed by the DAP with 28. The PAS took 23. Mrs. Azizah (PKR) was re-elected paving the way for Mr. Ibrahim's possible return to parliament.

On 10 March Mr. Abdullah was sworn in as prime minister for a second five-year term.

The newly elected House of Representatives held its first session on 28 April and elected Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Hj Mulia as its new Speaker.

On 31 July Ms. Wan Azizah (PKR) resigned her seat. Her husband Mr. Ibrahim won the resulting by-election on 26 August by a landslide.
Voter turnout
Round no 18 March 2008
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
8'161'039 (74.72%)
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
National Front (BN) 4'081'115 51.12
People's Justice Party (PKR) 1'529'256 19.15
Democratic Action Party (DAP) 1'097'752 13.75
Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) 1'140'598 14.29
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
National Front (BN) 140
People's Justice Party (PKR) 31
Democratic Action Party (DAP) 28
Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) 23
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
- http://www.spr.gov.my/
- Election Commission (30.01.2009)
- Parliament (09.04.2008 01.01.2010 25.01.2012)

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