Malaysian general election, 1978

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Malaysian general election, 1978
1974 ←
8 July 1978 → 1982

All 154 seats to the Dewan Rakyat
and all 276 state legislature seats in 11 (out of 13, except Sabah and Sarawak) states of Malaysia

78 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 3,596,732 (75.3%)
  First party Second party Third party
  Tun Hussein Onn (MY 3rd PM).jpg Lim Kit Siang cropped.jpg PAS
Leader Hussein Onn Lim Kit Siang Asri Muda
Party Barisan Nasional DAP PAS
Leader since 14 January 1976 October 1969 1969
Leader's seat Sri Gading Petaling No seat
Last election 135 seats, 60.7% 9 seats, 18.3% 13 seats (part of Barisan Nasional)
Seats won 130 16 5
Seat change Decrease 5 Increase 7 Decrease 8
Popular vote 1,987,907 664,433 537,720
Percentage 57.2% 19.1% 15.5%
Swing Decrease 3.5% Increase 0.8%

Prime Minister before election

Hussein Onn
Barisan Nasional

Prime Minister-designate

Hussein Onn
Barisan Nasional

Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

General elections were held in Malaysia on 8 July 1978.[1] It was Hussein Onn's first election since he became the country's third Prime Minister. His Barisan Nasional Party emerged victorious with 131 of the 154 seats in Parliament. Voter turnout was 75.3%.


As expected, Barisan Nasional comfortably maintained its majority in the Malaysian Parliament and thus, gave the Prime Minister the power to form a government with a free hand. Despite the victory, BN actually lost four seats out of 154 seats to the opposition.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) withdrew from BN in the midst of the 1977 Kelantan Emergency over disagreements with UMNO over the running of the state government of Kelantan, which PAS had controlled since the first post-independence general election in 1959. With the support of UMNO, detractors within PAS split with the party and formed the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Front (BERJASA). In the election, PAS lost the control of the state for the first time to the UMNO-BERJASA alliance within BN. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has been credited for UMNO's victory in Kelantan.

The opposition garnered 42.8% of total votes. In spite of that, the opposition as one won only 23 seats. Democratic Action Party won the largest slice of the pie among the opposition parties and hence, its leader Lim Kit Siang retained his position as the leader of the opposition that he had obtained four years earlier.

Candidates were returned unopposed in nine constituencies. The registered electors from these constituencies therefore did not cast ballots.


Political Party Votes % of vote Seats % of seats +/–
National Front BN 1,987,907 57.2 130 84.4 -5
United Malays National Organisation UMNO 69 44.8 +7
Malaysian Chinese Association MCA 17 11.0 -2
Malaysian People's Movement Party Gerakan 4 2.6 -1
Malaysian Indian Congress MIC 3 1.9 -1
People's Progressive Party PPP 0 0.0 -1
Sabah People's United Front BERJAYA
Sarawak National Party SNAP
Sarawak United People's Party SUPP
United Traditional Bumiputera Party PBB
United Sabah National Organisation USNO
Democratic Action Party DAP 664,433 19.1 16 10.4 +7
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS 537,720 15.5 5 3.2 -8
Sarawak People's Organisation SAPO 10,150 0.3 1 0.6 New
Other parties 112,850 3.2 0 0.0 0
Independents IND 160,370 4.6 2 1.3 +1
Valid votes 3,473,430
Invalid/blank votes 123,302
Total (turnout: 75.3%) 3,596,732 100.0 154 100.0 0
Did not vote 1,462,957
Registered voters 5,059,689
Voting age population 6,067,230
Malaysian population 12,303,000
Source: Nohlen et al. [1]

Candidates were returned unopposed in nine constituencies. The registered electors from these constituencies therefore did not cast ballots.


  1. ^ Nohlen, D, Grotz, F & Hartmann, C (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p152 ISBN 0-19-924959-8