In May 2018 the Malaysian governing coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) lost in national elections for the first time since independence. But the subsequent reform process came to a sudden halt in February 2020. During transitions, unpredictability and risks for political actors are higher, and political conditions are extremely volatile. Multiparty coalitions such as PH have trouble sustaining the cohesion that was instrumental in their electoral victory. The highly polarized environment and the differing strategic calculations of PH coalition partners after the elections prompted the early downfall of the government. At the same time, the opposition, weakened shortly after the transitional elections, increased its cohesiveness and mobilized its supporters against the government in an environment of deep ethnoreligious cleavages. This paper traces the reform successes and failures of the PH government as well as the reconsolidation and strengthening of the new opposition, up to the emergence of the new Perikatan Nasional government.

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