(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s Johor state will dissolve its assembly on Jan. 22, paving the way for the country’s third state election under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration.

The decision was consented by the southern state’s royal ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar after meeting with Johor Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad on Saturday, according to a statement. Ismail’s coalition controls the southern state with a majority of just one seat after the death of a lawmaker on Dec. 21.

The Election Commission will set a date for the Johor state polls, which must be held within 60 days after the assembly’s dissolution. Malacca and Sarawak states went to the polls in November and December respectively.

A victory for Ismail’s United Malays National Organisation in Johor could embolden the pro-Malay party to bring forward a general election that must be held by July 2023. Talk of early national polls first emerged within UMNO after its resounding win in the Malacca election.

Malaysia has been dogged by political instability ever since Mahathir Mohamad abruptly stepped down as prime minister in February 2020. His resignation enabled UMNO to return to power just two years after its defeat at the 2018 general election ended decades of political dominance. 

Last August, UMNO withdrew its support for prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, leader of the Bersatu party, setting the stage for UMNO vice-president Ismail to take over as premier.

Malaysia’s third leader in three years, Ismail’s rule hinges on an uneasy alliance with Bersatu. His slim parliamentary majority is bolstered by a confidence and supply agreement with the opposition that dictates parliament may only be dissolved after July 30.

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