The National Front (Malay: Barisan Nasional; abbrev: BN) is a political coalition in Malaysia that was founded in 1973 as a coalition of right-wing and centre parties. They are currently the largest opposition coalition in the country's Dewan Rakyat.
|Malay name||Barisan Nasional|
|Tamil name||பாரிசான் நேசனல்|
|Chairman||Ahmad Zahid Hamidi|
|Secretary-General||Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor|
|Deputy Chairman||Mohamad Hasan|
|Vice Chairmen||Wee Ka Siong|
|Founder||Abdul Razak Hussein|
|Founded||1 January 1973|
|Legalised||1 June 1974 (as a party)|
|Headquarters||Aras 8, Menara Dato’ Onn, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
New Straits Times
Nanyang Siang Pau
|Student wing||Barisan Nasional Student Movement|
|Youth wing||Barisan Nasional Youth Movement|
Transformasi Nasional 2050
|Colours||Royal blue and sky white|
|Slogan||Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan. |
Bersama BN, Hebatkan Negaraku
27 / 70
41 / 222
|Dewan Undangan Negeri:|
131 / 587
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The Barisan Nasional coalition employs the same inter-communal governing model of its predecessor the Alliance Party but on a wider scale, with up to 14 communal political parties involved in the coalition at one point. It dominated Malaysian politics for over thirty years after it was founded, but since 2008 has faced stronger challenges from opposition parties, notably the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and later the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliances. Taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), it had a combined period of rule from 1957 to 2018, and was considered as the longest ruling coalition party in the democratic world.
In the aftermath of the 2018 general election, the Barisan Nasional coalition lost its hold of the parliament to PH for the first time in Malaysian history. It was also the first time Barisan Nasional became the opposition coalition after almost, taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), 61 years in power, with former prime minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Mahathir Mohamad becoming PH's leader.
Barisan Nasional is the direct successor to the three-party Alliance coalition formed of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). It was founded in the aftermath of the 1969 general election and the 13 May riots. The Alliance Party lost ground in the 1969 election to the opposition parties, in particular the two newly formed parties Democratic Action Party and Gerakan, and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). Although the Alliance won a majority of seats, it gained less than half the popular vote, and the resulting tension between different communities led to riots and the declaration of a state of emergency. After the Malaysian Parliament reconvened in 1971, negotiations began with former opposition parties such as Gerakan and People's Progressive Party (myPPP), both of which joined the Alliance in 1972, quickly followed by Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
In 1973, the Alliance Party was replaced by Barisan Nasional. The Barisan Nasional, which included regional parties from Sabah and Sarawak (Sabah Alliance Party, Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)), registered in June 1974 as a coalition of nine parties. It contested the 1974 general election as a grand coalition under the leadership of the prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, which it won with considerable success.
In 1977, PAS was expelled from Barisan Nasional following a revolt within the Kelantan state legislature against a chief minister appointed by the federal government. Barisan Nasional nevertheless won the 1978 general election convincingly, and it continued to dominate Malaysian politics in the 1980s and 1990s despite some losses in state elections, such as the loss of Kelantan to PAS, and Sabah to United Sabah Party (PBS) which later joined Barisan Nasional.
By 2003, Barisan Nasional had grown to a coalition formed of more than a dozen communal parties. It performed particularly well in the 2004 general election, winning 198 out of 219 seats.
Although Barisan Nasional never achieved more than 67% of the popular vote in elections from 1974 to 2008, it maintained consecutive two-thirds majority of seats in this period in the Dewan Rakyat until the 2008 election, benefitting from Malaysia's first-past-the-post voting system.
In the 2008 general election, Barisan Nasional lost more than one-third of the parliamentary seats to Pakatan Rakyat, a loose alliance of opposition parties. This marked Barisan's first failure to secure a two-thirds supermajority in Parliament since 1969. Five state governments, namely Selangor, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and Kedah fell to Pakatan Rakyat. Perak however was later returned via court ruling following a constitutional crisis. Since 2008, the coalition has seen its non-Malay component parties greatly diminished in the peninsula.
The losses continued in the 2013 general election, and it recorded its worst election result at the time. BN regained Kedah, but lost several more seats in Parliament along with the popular vote to Pakatan. Despite winning only 47% of the popular vote, it managed to gain 60% of the 222 parliamentary seats, thereby retaining control of the parliament.
And finally, during the 2018 general election, Barisan Nasional lost control of the parliament to Pakatan Harapan, winning a total of only 79 parliamentary seats. The crushing defeat ended their 61-year rule of the country, taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), and this paved the way for the first change of government in Malaysian history. The coalition won only 34% of the popular vote, despite redrawing the electoral boundaries in their favour. In addition to their failure in regaining the Penang, Selangor and Kelantan state governments, six state governments, namely Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah and Sabah fell to Pakatan Harapan and WARISAN (Sabah). The Terengganu state government also fell but to the Gagasan Sejahtera (GS). Barisan Nasional was only in power in three states; namely Perlis, Pahang and Sarawak.
Many of BN's component parties left the coalition following its humiliating defeat at the 2018 general election, reducing its number to only the original three of UMNO, MCA and MIC compared to 13 before the election. These parties either aligned themselves with the new Pakatan Harapan federal government, formed a new state-based pact or remained independent. They include four Sabah-based parties (UPKO, PBS, PBRS and LDP), four Sarawak-based parties (PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP, which formed a new state-based pact GPS), myPPP (under Kayveas faction) and Gerakan. MyPPP experienced a leadership dispute, with Maglin announced that the party remained within the coalition and Kayveas announced that the party had left the coalition, resulting in the dissolution of the party on 14 January 2019.
Among the remaining three component parties in Barisan National, UMNO's parliamentary seats have reduced from 54 to 37 since after 17 members of parliament left the party, while MCA's parliamentary seat maintains one. MIC's parliamentary seats have reduced from two to one after the Election Court nullified the results of the election for the Cameron Highlands federal constituency due to bribery, but BN regained its seat from a direct member under the 2019 by-election.
As a result of the these developments, BN's parliamentary seats have reduced to 40, compared with 79 seats that BN has won in the general election.
MCA and MIC made a statement in March 2019 that they want to "move on" and find a new alliance following disputes with secretary-general, Nazri Abdul Aziz. Mohamad Hasan, the acting BN chairman, chaired a Supreme Council meeting scheduled on March 8.
In 2013, the vast majority of Barisan Nasional's seats were held by its two largest Bumiputera-based political parties—the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB). For most of its history, both the Malaysian Chinese Association and Malaysian Indian Congress have played major roles in Barisan Nasional, but their representation in Parliament and state legislatures has become much more diminished. Nevertheless, each component party purports to represent – and limit membership – to a certain race: UMNO for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese and so on. In the view of some scholars:
Since its inception the Alliance remained a coalition of communal parties. Each of the component parties operated to all intents and purposes, save that of elections, as a separate party. Their membership was communal, except perhaps Gerakan, and their success was measured in terms of their ability to achieve the essentially parochial demands of their constituents.
Although both the Alliance and BN registered themselves as political parties, membership is mostly indirect through one of the constituent parties while direct membership is allowed. The BN defines itself as a "confederation of political parties which subscribe to the objects of the Barisan Nasional". Although in elections, all candidates stand under the BN symbol, and there is a BN manifesto, each individual constituent party also issues its own manifesto, and there is intra-coalition competition for seats prior to nomination day.
|UMNO||United Malays National Organisation
Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu
|Ketuanan Melayu||Ahmad Zahid Hamidi||120||21.10%||
54 / 222
38 / 41
|MCA||Malaysian Chinese Association
Persatuan Cina Malaysia
|Conservatism||Wee Ka Siong||39||5.30%||
1 / 222
2 / 41
|MIC||Malaysian Indian Congress
Kongres India Malaysia
|Social conservatism||Vigneswaran Sanasee||9||1.39%||
2 / 222
1 / 41
Dewan Negara (Senate)
- His Majesty's appointee:
- Abdul Halim Abdul Samad (UMNO)
- Bashir Alias (UMNO)
- Chai Kim Sen (MCA)
- Fahariyah Md. Nordin (UMNO)
- Hanafi Mamat (UMNO)
- Ibrahim Shah Abu Shah (UMNO)
- Ismail Ibrahim (UMNO)
- Khairul Azwan Harun (UMNO)
- Mohan Thanarasu (MIC)
- Mustapa Kamal Mohd. Yusoff (UMNO)
- Rabiyah Ali (UMNO)
- Rahemah Idris (UMNO)
- Rahimah Mahamad (UMNO)
- Sopiah Sharif (UMNO)
- Vigneswaran Sanasee (MIC)
- Perlis State Legislative Assembly:
- Kamarudin Abdun (UMNO)
- Sabani Mat (UMNO)
- Kedah State Legislative Assembly:
- Ananthan Somasundaram (MIC)
- Pahang State Legislative Assembly:
- Siti Fatimah Yahaya (UMNO)
- Ti Lian Ker (MCA)
- Melaka State Legislative Assembly:
- Abidullah Salleh (UMNO)
- Lee Tian Sing (MCA)
- Johor State Legislative Assembly:
- Lim Pay Hen (MCA)
- Zahari Sarip (UMNO)
Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives)
Members of Parliament of the 14th Malaysian Parliament
Barisan Nasional has 41 MPs in the House of Representatives, with 38 MPs (or 92.5%) of them from UMNO.
Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly)
Malaysian State Assembly Representatives
Barisan Nasional state governments
|State||Leader type||Member||Party||State Constituency|
|Menteri Besar||Azlan Man||UMNO||Bintong|
|Menteri Besar||Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail||UMNO||Jelai|
General election results
|Election||Total seats won||Share of seats||Total votes||Share of votes||Outcome of election||Election leader|
135 / 154
|87.7%||1,287,400||60.8%||Abdul Razak Hussein|
131 / 154
132 / 154
148 / 177
127 / 180
162 / 192
148 / 193
198 / 219
|90.4%||4,420,452||63.9%||Abdullah Ahmad Badawi|
140 / 222
|63.1%||4,082,411||50.27%||Abdullah Ahmad Badawi|
133 / 222
79 / 222
State election results
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UMNO came into being in 1946 under the impetus of the Anti-Malayan Union Movement based on this ideological understanding of ketuanan Melayu. Its founding president, Dato’ Onn Jaafar, once said that the UMNO movement did not adhere to any ideology other than Melayuisme, defined by scholar Ariffin Omar as “the belief that the interests of the bangsa Melayu must be upheld over all else”. Malay political dominance is a fundamental reality of Malaysian politics, notwithstanding the fact that the governing coalition since independence, the Alliance [subsequently expanded to form the Barisan Nasional or literally, the “National Front”], is multiethnic in its composition.
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- Organisational Chart of Barisan Nasional
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