PETALING JAYA - The nomination of candidates for the Umno election closes at 5pm today as the party heads into its most transparent polls to date which will see more than 146,000 delegates choosing their line-up of leaders.
No surprises are expected for the party president and deputy president posts. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin are almost certain to be returned unopposed.
But further down the field, the temperature will get notably warmer with keen contests expected for most positions.
The new, more transparent election regulations, which allow more voters to take part and do away with strict entry requirements for candidates, are being credited for the crowded field of candidates. Already 318 nomination forms have been distributed to the aspirants.
All candidates must file their papers from 8am today, ahead of voting for the party's top positions on Oct 19 while polling for office-bearers in Umno Youth, Wanita Umno and Puteri Umno will take place on Oct 12.
There have been no indications of a potential challenge to Najib or Muhyiddin by any significant figure. While obscure contenders could yet emerge today, they will unlikely pose any threat to the two incumbents.
"With polling just four weeks away, there is no longer enough time for any possible newcomer in the race to mount an effective campaign for the top two positions," said Assoc Prof Shaharuddin Badaruddin from Universiti Teknologi Mara.
Party vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said most party members were against a contest for the top two positions "as we know very well the repercussions".