Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's moderate Islamism triumphs in elections

Kuala Lumpur (Asia News/Agencies) -  Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's, together with his BN-Barisan Nasional party and its 14-member UMNO coalition, obtained significant victories in national elections. 

With respect to the 1999 elections, the BN party now controls a 2/3 majority of seats after winning 47 new seats in Parliament. In state elections across the country UMNO won 122 additional house seats.

This year's elections mark the triumph of Badawi's moderate form of Islamism, whose policies are based on a modern and tolerant view of Islam. His party is one which respects all religions, intends to fight corruption and install a program of economic and social reforms, especially those which have touched agricultural areas and lead the country's GDP to increase by 5% in 2003. 

Badawi's mainstream religious views have paid off in a country in which 47.7% of the population is Muslim and 24% are followers of traditional Chinese religions; another 8.3% of its citizens are Catholic, 7.3% Hindu and 6.7% Buddhist.   

Underscoring the BN triumph was the UMNO winning back the state of Terengganu, where the Islamic fundamentalist PAS party took power after the 1999 elections. A recount of votes is underway in the state of Kelantan –another PAS stronghold since 1990—where BN seems to have proven victorious.  Final results will be released tomorrow.  

UMNO recorded landslide victories in the states of Perlis and Kedah, where fundamentalists campaigned hard to win votes but suffered their greatest loss as PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang lost his seat in parliament. 

The elections also registered a slight victory for the DAP minority opposition, after suffering heavy losses together with PAS representatives in the 1999 elections. This time around, with a new independent identity from the Islamic fundamentalist party and support from the Chinese community, DAP gained 13 seats in Parliament (3 more than in 1999).

Meanwhile Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has already been sworn in as the new Malaysian Prime Minister.