PETALING JAYA: The 11th general election scored many “firsts” in various aspects.
It was certainly a sweet victory for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who came through his first general election as leader of the country with the most stunning of results.
Not only did he lead the Barisan to victory, the coalition also won the highest number of parliamentary seats ever by winning 198 out of 219.
Abdullah was not the only new party leader these polls. MCA saw a new president at helm as Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting took over from his predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik in May last year.
The crisis-gripped Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak also had a new leader, Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem, after he took over from Datuk Amar Leo Moggie in a messy power transfer.
On the opposition side, a new leader led PAS.
Party president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang assumed to party's top post after Datuk Fadzil Noor died in 2002.
This was also the first election for the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, a new member the Barisan.
Former Barisan component party Sarawak National Party (SNAP), on the other, had contested as an opposition party for the first time. It failed to win any seats.
This was also Puteri Umno's maiden election and it did extremely well, with all four of its candidates, including its chief Datuk Azalina Othman Said, being voted in.
The number of women candidates was also the highest for any general election.
A total of 97 women were fielded, 55 as Barisan candidates and the remainder belonging to the various opposition parties.
It was also the first time since 1969 that PAS fielded women candidates and the first time for that period of time that one of them won.
A recount delivered the Pasir Puteh parliamentary seat in Kelantan to PAS women's chief Kalthom Othman.
The election process itself also generated several “firsts.”
The Barisan got off to a good start by winning 15 parliamentary and seven state seats uncontested, the highest since the coalition's inaugural election in 1974 when it won 45 seats uncontested.
This was also probably the first general election where a seat was won with the slimmest majority.
In a recount on Monday, the Kemuning state seat in Kelantan was retained by PAS with a majority of only two votes.
The winner, Zakaria Yaacob, who got 6,078 votes, defeated Barisan's Wan Mohamad Zin Mat Amin who polled 6,076 votes.
These elections also saw the longest time taken for the winner of a seat to be determined.
The winner for the Bukit Bintang parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur was only declared at 10.25pm on Monday, almost 30 hours after polling stations closed.
The recount, which was frequently interrupted by protests from various parties, delivered the seat to incumbent Fong Kui Lun of DAP, who defeated Barisan's Tan Chew Mooi by a mere 304 votes.
Other long-drawn recounts also took place for the Machang and Pasir Puteh parliamentary seats in Kelantan, Kota Melaka in Malacca, and Permatang Pauh in Penang.
This election also saw the highest number of candidates losing their deposits.
A total of 136 candidates, all from the opposition who were vying for parliamentary and state seats, lost a deposits amounting to around RM800,000.
On a less flattering note, this was the first election where voting in a particular constituency had to be annulled on polling day itself.
A mix-up in the party symbols on the ballot papers for the Sungai Lembing state seat in Pahang forced the Election Commission to halt voting.
Polling will now be held on Sunday.