A Malaysian opposition coalition, led by Mahathir Mohamad, a 92-year-old former prime minister, has won an extraordinary victory over the government of Najib Razak in the country's general election. It's the first time since independence in 1957 that the government has lost. The turnround marks a victory for democrats and liberals not only in Malaysia, but also across Asia, after years of setbacks and rising authoritarianism, especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Myanmar.
What makes the Malaysian result remarkable is that Mr Najib was once Mr Mahathir's protégé. But Mr Mahathir was so enraged by what he condemned as the corruption of the prime minister, corruption that Mr Najib denies, that he came out of retirement to topple him. And to do so, he teamed up with an unlikely band of allies, including Anwar Ibrahim, a jailed opposition leader once sacked and persecuted by Mr Mahathir himself.
The next few days will be critical for Malaysia's politics, its economy, and its financial markets. Although Mr Mahathir's coalition won an outright majority, it did so with only one parliamentary seat to spare. And it's composed of supporters with very different visions of Malaysia's future. The third-largest group in parliament, with 18 of the 222 seats, is the Islamist PAS party. Mr Najib says he accepts the will of the people, but he has yet to concede defeat.