The 13th Malaysian general election was held on 5 May 2013, following the dissolution of Parliament announced by Prime MinisterNajib Tun Razak on 3 April, following years of speculation, ever since 9 April 2009, when Najib took over the post of Prime Minister.
Barisan Nasional (BN) had officially lost the popular vote at both the federal and state levels in the general elections, despite winning 133 parliamentary seats and retaking Kedah. Its number of marginal seats rose by a quarter from 63 seats in the 2008 general elections to 80 seats. (Marginal seats are seats where the margin of victory is less than 5%.) Barisan Nasional was also bested on the popularity front for the first time since 1969, when it had contested as the Alliance Party. For the federal seats, BN polled 5,237,699 votes to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties' combined 5,623,984 ballots. The 3-party pact also surpassed BN in state seats, pulling in 4,879,699 to the 13-member coalition’s 4,513,997 ballots. Official turnout for the elections was 84.84% or 11,257,147 voters.
The numbers paint a growing gulf forming within the Malaysian public, with the Malay heartland that swung back to BN on the one hand, and a multiracial bloc that threw its support behind the PR parties on the other. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak suggested a "Chinese tsunami" was behind BN ceding more ground to the opposition in an electoral showing that was worse than the previous low of 2008.
"I think they were taken in by some of the undertakings given by the opposition... and that's why there was that swing.... and a lot of sentiments there, some of them racial in nature, that were being played up in this election, which is not very healthy for this country", Najib told reporters at the UMNO headquarters, shortly after a simple majority victory cemented BN's place in Putrajaya. "I expected it but I did not expect it to this extent. None of us expected it to this extent. But despite the extent of the swing against us, BN did not fall", he added.
But critics and rivals have rejected BN's narrative of a "Chinese tsunami", pointing instead to a separation founded on class. "Intra-ethnic inequality is startlingly high. There has been a lot of disproportionate access [to economic privileges] by the few", Meredith Weiss, an associate professor at the State University of New York, told the Financial Times in remarks published on 6 May. "The underlining trend seems to be that interests are defined now by socioeconomic class, rather than ethnicity."
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) also made significant inroads into Johor, traditionally considered to be the "Fortress of UMNO", winning 5 parliamentary seats and 18 state seats, a big jump from its' previous count of one parliamentary seat and 6 state seats.