Malaysian candidates launch campaigns ahead of polls

Other News Materials 24 February 2008 12:26 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Political candidates on Sunday kicked off their campaigns for Malaysian's 12th general elections scheduled for March 8.

Hundreds of candidates submitted their nomination papers to contest 222 parliamentary constituencies and 505 state legislature seats.

The National Front coalition, consisting of 14 political parties, has won every general election since the country gained independence from the British in 1957.

In the 2004 elections, the coalition won a landslide victory by taking 199 of 219 parliamentary seats.

Political analysts predict that the National Front is likely to win a new majority, but the declining popularity of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government is expected to cost the ruling coalition several of its seats to opposition parties.

Abdullah, who had pledged to crack down on corruption and crime when he took office in 2003, has appealed to voters to give his government "more time" to carry out his promises.

His government has in recent months been plagued by mounting racial tensions, unprecedented street protests and growing anger over inflation and crime.