KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S ruling coalition celebrated impressive victories in two special elections on Thursday, signaling an apparent fall in support for the opposition that might embolden Prime Minister Najib Razak to call early national polls.

The results are a major morale boost for the National Front coalition, which has battled to regain public support after clinging on to power despite losing more than one-third of the seats in Parliament in 2008 general elections.

In two simultaneous polls on Thursday, the National Front retained a parliamentary seat on Borneo island with a sharply higher majority compared to 2008 and wrested a state legislature seat in northeastern Malaysia's Kelantan state from opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance, according to the Election Commission.

Malaysia's next general elections are not due until mid-2013, but analysts say Mr Najib could call for snap polls as early as next year if he believes enough voters approve of his efforts to curb corruption, economic mismanagement and racial discrimination.

The results of Thursday's voting reflected that 'the momentum of the opposition seems to be slowing down,' Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent research firm Merdeka Center, told The Associated Press.

'It gives (Najib) a sense of comfort,' Ibrahim said, adding that early elections 'cannot be ruled out.' Based on the results, some voters appeared to be appreciative of Najib's economic and administrative reform programs, and many might also be disappointed with Anwar's opposition alliance for being embroiled in infighting and failing to deliver on political promises over the past two years, Mr Ibrahim said.

BN wins big at by-elections