Malaysian PM Won't Quit After Election Rout

'Political tsunami' the result of govt's inability to quell racial strife
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2008 12:28 PM CDT
Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, right, hold hands with Najib Razak, deputy Prime Minister Sunday, March. 9, 2008, after their press conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The National Front...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Yesterday's elections in Malaysia dealt a stunning blow to the coalition that has effectively ruled the country since 1957. Despite the worst-ever showing, the National Front clung to a bare majority in parliament, and the prime minister refused calls for his resignation, BBC reports. Outside observers fear unrest and financial instability in the wake of the upset.

The defeat came in part as voters protested the government's failure to deal with rising racial and ethnic tensions in Malaysia. Islamist and reformist parties gained control of five of 13 Malaysian states. The Islamists' shock victory shows the movement to be on the rise in the country's heartland, Reuters reports.