Malaysia set to hold a general election on May 9

Malaysia's Prime Minister and president of ruling party National Front, Najib Razak and other party leaders wave the party flags during the launch of its manifesto for the upcoming general elections in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Malaysia is set to hold a general election on May 9, in what could be the toughest test of the ruling coalition’s 61-year grip on power.

Embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak is under pressure to deliver an emphatic win for the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, as he struggles to appease Malaysians unhappy with rising costs and a multi-billion dollar scandal at a state fund he founded.

The 64-year-old is expected to retain power due to the BN’s firm grip on Malaysia’s weakened institutions, and what critics claim are efforts by the government to rig the election through gerrymandering and other forms of cheating.

But he faces a tough challenge from his old mentor and the country’s most seasoned campaigner, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.

Announcing the poll date, which falls on a weekday, the Election Commission on Tuesday set an 11-day campaign period, shorter than the 15 days allotted for the 2013 polls.

Meanwhile, 14.94 million people are eligible to vote, including 1.7 million new voters.