After decades in the background of Malaysia’s national politics, the monarchy has moved to center stage to fill a power vacuum this year.

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who ascended the throne last year, stepped into the political fray back in February when a two-year-old government abruptly collapsed. He resolved the impasse by tapping Muhyiddin Yassin to become the next prime minister without a parliamentary vote. Since then, Muhyiddin’s majority has regularly been questioned, and the country’s top politicians have sought meetings with the king while vying for power.

For Malaysia, where one coalition ruled for six straight decades until the 2018 election, it’s relatively new for the monarch to play such a prominent role in politics. The nine members of the Conference of Rulers, who rotate power among themselves, have since the country’s independence from British rule mainly performed ceremonial functions like swearing in ministers or pardoning criminal convicts.