Barisan Nasional
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Barisan Nasional

National Front
Malay nameBarisan Nasional
Chinese name?
Guómín zhènxiàn
Tamil name
ChairmanAhmad Zahid Hamidi
Annuar Musa
Deputy ChairmanMohamad Hasan
Vice ChairmenWee Ka Siong
Vigneswaran Sanasee
Joseph Kurup
AdvisorNajib Razak
FounderAbdul Razak Hussein
Founded1 January 1973 (1973-01-01)[1]
Legalised1 June 1974 (as a party)
Preceded byAlliance
HeadquartersAras 8, Menara Dato' Onn, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
NewspaperPro-BN newspapers:
New Straits Times
Utusan Malaysia (formerly)
The Star
Nanyang Siang Pau
Tamil Nesan
Student wingBarisan Nasional Student Movement
Youth wingBarisan Nasional Youth Movement
IdeologyKetuanan Melayu[2][3]
National conservatism
Social conservatism[4]
Economic liberalism[5]
Political positionRight-wing
Colours     Royal blue and sky white
SloganRakyat Didahulukan
Hidup Rakyat
Bersama Barisan Nasional
Hidup Negaraku
AnthemBarisan Nasional
Dewan Negara
Dewan Rakyat
Dewan Undangan Negeri
Election symbol
Barisan Nasional Logo.svg
Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg

politics and government of
Flag of Malaysia.svg Malaysia portal

The National Front (Malay: Barisan Nasional; abbrev: BN) is a political coalition in Malaysia that was founded in 1973 as a coalition of right-wing and centre parties. They are currently the largest coalition in the country's Dewan Rakyat.

The Barisan Nasional coalition employs the same inter-communal governing model of its predecessor the Alliance Party but on a wider scale, with up to 14 communal political parties involved in the coalition at one point.[1] It dominated Malaysian politics for over thirty years after it was founded, but since 2008 has faced stronger challenges from opposition parties, notably the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and later the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliances. Taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), it had a combined period of rule from 1957 to 2018, and was considered the longest ruling coalition party in the democratic world.[6]

In the aftermath of the 2018 general election, the Barisan Nasional coalition lost its hold of the parliament to PH for the first time in Malaysian history. It was also the first time Barisan Nasional became the opposition coalition after almost, taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), 61 years in power, with former prime minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Mahathir Mohamad becoming PH's leader. The coalition returned to power under Perikatan Nasional together with four other parties in the aftermath of the 2020 Malaysian political crisis.



Barisan Nasional is the direct successor to the three-party Alliance coalition formed of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). It was founded in the aftermath of the 1969 general election and the 13 May riots. The Alliance Party lost ground in the 1969 election to the opposition parties, in particular the two newly formed parties, Democratic Action Party and Gerakan, as well as Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). Although the Alliance won a majority of seats, it gained less than half the popular vote, and the resulting tension between different communities led to the May 13 riots and the declaration of a state of emergency.[7] After the Malaysian Parliament reconvened in 1971, negotiations began with former opposition parties such as Gerakan and People's Progressive Party (myPPP), both of which joined the Alliance in 1972, quickly followed by Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).

In 1973, the Alliance Party was replaced by Barisan Nasional.[1][8] The Barisan Nasional, which included regional parties from Sabah and Sarawak (Sabah Alliance Party, Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)), registered in June 1974 as a coalition of nine parties.[8] It contested the 1974 general election as a grand coalition under the leadership of the prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, which it won with considerable success.[9]


In 1977, PAS was expelled from Barisan Nasional following a revolt within the Kelantan state legislature against a chief minister appointed by the federal government.[1] Barisan Nasional nevertheless won the 1978 general election convincingly, and it continued to dominate Malaysian politics in the 1980s and 1990s despite some losses in state elections, such as the loss of Kelantan to PAS, and Sabah to United Sabah Party (PBS) which later joined Barisan Nasional.

By 2003, Barisan Nasional had grown to a coalition formed of more than a dozen communal parties. It performed particularly well in the 2004 general election, winning 198 out of 219 seats.

Although Barisan Nasional never achieved more than 67% of the popular vote in elections from 1974 to 2008, it maintained consecutive two-thirds majority of seats in this period in the Dewan Rakyat until the 2008 election, benefitting from Malaysia's first-past-the-post voting system.[10]


High-ranking BN party officials holding copies of the party manifesto at a pre-election rally in 2013. In the front row, from left, are Chua Soi Lek (MCA), Muhyiddin Yassin, Najib Razak and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (UMNO), and Abdul Taib Mahmud (PBB).

In the 2008 general election, Barisan Nasional lost more than one-third of the parliamentary seats to Pakatan Rakyat, a loose alliance of opposition parties. This marked Barisan's first failure to secure a two-thirds supermajority in Parliament since 1969. Five state governments, namely Selangor, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and Kedah fell to Pakatan Rakyat. Perak however was later returned via court ruling following a constitutional crisis. Since 2008, the coalition has seen its non-Malay component parties greatly diminished in the peninsula.[11]

The losses continued in the 2013 general election, and it recorded its worst election result at the time. BN regained Kedah, but lost several more seats in Parliament along with the popular vote to Pakatan. Despite winning only 47% of the popular vote, it managed to gain 60% of the 222 parliamentary seats, thereby retaining control of the parliament.[12]

And finally, during the 2018 general election, Barisan Nasional lost control of the parliament to Pakatan Harapan, winning a total of only 79 parliamentary seats. The crushing defeat ended their 61-year rule of the country, taken together with its predecessor (Alliance), and this paved the way for the first change of government in Malaysian history. The coalition won only 34% of the popular vote, despite redrawing the electoral boundaries in their favour. In addition to their failure in regaining the Penang, Selangor and Kelantan state governments, six state governments, namely Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah and Sabah fell to Pakatan Harapan and WARISAN (Sabah). The Terengganu state government also fell but to the Gagasan Sejahtera (GS). Barisan Nasional was only in power in three states; namely Perlis, Pahang and Sarawak.

Many of BN's component parties left the coalition following its humiliating defeat at the 2018 general election, reducing its number to 4 compared to 13 before the election.[13]. These parties either aligned themselves with the new Pakatan Harapan federal government, formed a new state-based pact or remained independent. They include three Sabah-based parties (UPKO, PBS and LDP),[14][15] four Sarawak-based parties (PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP, which formed a new state-based pact GPS),[16][17]myPPP (under Kayveas faction)[18] and Gerakan.[19] MyPPP experienced a leadership dispute, with Maglin announced that the party remained within the coalition and Kayveas announced that the party had left the coalition, resulting in the dissolution of the party on 14 January 2019.

Among the remaining four component parties in Barisan National, UMNO's parliamentary seats have reduced from 54 to 38 since after 16 members of parliament left the party,[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27] while MCA's parliamentary seat maintains one. MIC's parliamentary seats have reduced from two to one after the Election Court nullified the results of the election for the Cameron Highlands federal constituency due to bribery,[28] but BN regained its seat from a direct member under the 2019 by-election.[29]

As a result of these developments, BN's parliamentary seats have reduced to 41, compared with 79 seats that BN has won in the general election.

MCA and MIC made a statement in March 2019 that they want to "move on" and find a new alliance following disputes with secretary-general, Nazri Abdul Aziz. Mohamad Hasan, the acting BN chairman, chaired a Supreme Council meeting in which all parties showed no consensus on dissolving the coalition.


In 2019, Barisan Nasional recovered some ground and won a number of by-elections, such as the 2019 Cameron Highlands by-election, 2019 Semenyih by-election, 2019 Rantau by-election, 2019 Tanjung Piai by-election and the 2020 Kimanis by-election, defeating Pakatan.[]

In September 2019, UMNO decided to form a pact with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) called Muafakat Nasional. Its main purpose is to unite the Malay Muslim communities for electoral purposes.[30] There is however no formal agreement with the other parties of Barisan Nasional, although there are calls for Barisan Nasional to migrate to Muafakat Nasional.[31][32] Barisan Nasional continued to function as a coalition of four parties comprising UMNO, MCA, MIC and PBRS, but aligned themselves with Perikatan Nasional to form a new government in March 2020 after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.[33]


In 2013, the vast majority of Barisan Nasional's seats were held by its two largest Bumiputera-based political parties--the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB). For most of its history, both the Malaysian Chinese Association and Malaysian Indian Congress have played major roles in Barisan Nasional, but their representation in Parliament and state legislatures has become much more diminished. Nevertheless, each component party purports to represent - and limit membership - to a certain race: UMNO for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese and so on. In the view of some scholars:

Since its inception the Alliance remained a coalition of communal parties. Each of the component parties operated to all intents and purposes, save that of elections, as a separate party. Their membership was communal, except perhaps Gerakan, and their success was measured in terms of their ability to achieve the essentially parochial demands of their constituents.[34]

Although both the Alliance and BN registered themselves as political parties, membership is mostly indirect through one of the constituent parties while direct membership is allowed.[35] The BN defines itself as a "confederation of political parties which subscribe to the objects of the Barisan Nasional". Although in elections, all candidates stand under the BN symbol, and there is a BN manifesto, each individual constituent party also issues its own manifesto, and there is intra-coalition competition for seats prior to nomination day.[36]

Constituent parties

Logo Name Ideology Leader(s) Seats
2018 result Current
Votes (%) Seats Composition
UMNO (Malaysia).svg UMNO United Malays National Organisation
Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu
Ketuanan Melayu Ahmad Zahid Hamidi 120 21.10%
Flag of the Malaysian Chinese Association.svg MCA Malaysian Chinese Association
Persatuan Cina Malaysia
Conservatism Wee Ka Siong 39 5.30%
Malaysian Indian Congress Flag.svg MIC Malaysian Indian Congress
Kongres India Malaysia
Social conservatism Vigneswaran Sanasee 9 1.39%
PBRS United Sabah People's Party
Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah
Nationalism Joseph Kurup 1 0.10%

Leadership Structure

Barisan Nasional Supreme Council:[37]

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the incumbent Chairman of Barisan Nasional.

Elected representatives

Dewan Negara (Senate)


  • His Majesty's appointee:

Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives)

Members of Parliament of the 14th Malaysian Parliament

Barisan Nasional has 43 MPs in the House of Representatives, with 39 MPs (or 92.5%) of them from UMNO.

State No. Parliament Constituency Member Party
 Perlis P001 Padang Besar Zahidi Zainul Abidin UMNO
P003 Arau Dr. Shahidan Kassim UMNO
 Kedah P007 Padang Terap Mahdzir Khalid UMNO
P016 Baling Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim UMNO
 Kelantan P026 Ketereh Annuar Musa UMNO
P029 Machang Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub UMNO
P032 Gua Musang Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah UMNO
 Terengganu P033 Besut Idris Jusoh UMNO
 Penang P041 Kepala Batas Reezal Merican Naina Merican UMNO
 Perak P054 Gerik Hasbullah Osman UMNO
P055 Lenggong Shamsul Anuar Nasarah UMNO
P061 Padang Rengas Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz UMNO
P067 Kuala Kangsar Mastura Mohd. Yazid UMNO
P069 Parit Mohd. Nizar Zakaria UMNO
P072 Tapah Saravanan Murugan MIC
P073 Pasir Salak Tajuddin Abdul Rahman UMNO
P075 Bagan Datuk Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi UMNO
 Pahang P078 Cameron Highlands Ramli Mohd Nor UMNO
P079 Lipis Abdul Rahman Mohamad UMNO
P081 Jerantut Ahmad Nazlan Idris UMNO
P084 Paya Besar Mohd. Shahar Abdullah UMNO
P085 Pekan Mohd. Najib Abdul Razak UMNO
P086 Maran Ismail Abdul Muttalib UMNO
P087 Kuala Krau Ismail Mohamed Said UMNO
P090 Bera Ismail Sabri Yaakob UMNO
P091 Rompin Hasan Arifin UMNO
 Selangor P095 Tanjong Karang Noh Omar UMNO
 Putrajaya P125 Putrajaya Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor UMNO
 Negeri Sembilan P126 Jelebu Jalaluddin Alias UMNO
P127 Jempol Mohd. Salim Shariff UMNO
P131 Rembau Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar UMNO
 Malacca P139 Jasin Ahmad Hamzah UMNO
 Johor P147 Parit Sulong Noraini Ahmad UMNO
P148 Ayer Hitam Wee Ka Siong MCA
P153 Sembrong Hishammuddin Hussein UMNO
P155 Tenggara Adham Baba UMNO
P156 Kota Tinggi Halimah Mohd. Sadique UMNO
P157 Pengerang Azalina Othman Said UMNO
P164 Pontian Ahmad Maslan UMNO
P165 Tanjung Piai Wee Jeck Seng MCA
 Sabah P176 Kimanis Mohamad Alamin UMNO
P182 Pensiangan Arthur Joseph Kurup PBRS
P187 Kinabatangan Bung Moktar Radin UMNO
Total Perlis (2), Kedah (2), Kelantan (3), Terengganu (1), Penang (1), Perak (8), Pahang (9), Selangor (1), F.T. Putrajaya (1), Negeri Sembilan (3), Malacca (1), Johor (8), Sabah (3)

Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly)

Malaysian State Assembly Representatives

Barisan Nasional state governments

General election results

Election Total seats won Share of seats Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Election leader
87.7% 1,287,400 60.8% Increase135 seats; Governing coalition Abdul Razak Hussein
85.1% 1,987,907 57.2% Decrease4 seats; Governing coalition Hussein Onn
85.7% 2,522,079 60.5% Increase1 seats; Governing coalition Mahathir Mohamad
83.6% 2,649,263 57.3% Increase16 seats; Governing coalition Mahathir Mohamad
70.6% 2,985,392 53.4% Decrease21 seats; Governing coalition Mahathir Mohamad
84.4% 3,881,214 65.2% Increase35 seats; Governing coalition Mahathir Mohamad
76.2% 3,748,511 56.53% Decrease15 seats; Governing coalition Mahathir Mohamad
90.4% 4,420,452 63.9% Increase51 seats; Governing coalition Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
63.1% 4,082,411 50.27% Decrease58 seats; Governing coalition Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
59.9% 5,237,555 47.38% Decrease7 seats;[38]Governing coalition Najib Razak
35.59% 3,794,827 33.96% Decrease54 seats; Opposition Najib Razak

State election results



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  37. ^ Organisational Chart of Barisan Nasional
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External links

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