United Malays National Organisation

Published 15th April, 2013

The United Malays National Organisation or UMNO was founded in 1946 and draws most of its support from the Malay population. The party describes itself as Right-wing and believes in Malay Supremacy, Islamic Democracy, Economic liberalism and Social conservatism.

The party has been the dominant party in Malaysian politics since independence in 1957. In 1957 the UMNO joined forces with the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) to form the Alliance Party. In 1973 the Alliance Party changed its name to the National Front or Barisan Nasional (BN). Since then the BN has brought in more small parties into a wide coalition umbrella.

Winning every general election since independence, the UMNO was and is the largest party in Malaysia. Its leaders have traditionally been the prime minister of the country. The Barisan Nasional, which UMNO leads, has rarely dropped below a two thirds majority. They did dip to 71% in the 1990 election and had their greatest victory in 2004 when they took 198 of the 219 seats in the House of Representatives.

In 2008 the BN (and UMNO) had their worst election to date; they dropped to 140 of the 222 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them just 63% of the seats. The result was such a disaster in the eyes of the party that the then prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was pressured into resigning. The current leader, Najib Razak, took over as leader. 1Malaysia was the brainchild of Najib Razak and is designed to emphasize ethnic harmony, national unity, and efficient governance.

The longest standing leader of the party and prime minister of the country was Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad; he took over in 1981 and was to continue to win five consecutive general elections and rule for 22 years until he stood down in 2003.

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