How losing might help the BN

Lessons from other dominant-party regimes

"We still have to take into account the role that the unelected institutions will play if the BN is ever defeated at the federal level," he says.

By Shannon Shah, The Nut Graph

BARELY 48 hours after the Barisan Nasional (BN) was nearly brought to its knees in the March 2008 elections, Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the coalition would "learn its lesson" and "improve".

Nearly 16 months after that fateful general election, Malaysians can be forgiven for being confused. Political temperatures have been rising, not cooling. Even a quick listing of the major political events in this period would leave any citizen breathless: the second round of sodomy charges against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; the BN's controversial Perak takeover; the targeting of Selangor exco Elizabeth Wong's private life to discredit her; the unity government talks between Umno and PAS; and the dizzying succession of seven by-elections.

Although BN leaders have brushed off accusations that the coalition has not learnt the lesson of March 2008, many voters think otherwise. And these voters might ask: does the BN need to be taught a bigger lesson during the next general election? Will the BN lose the federal government after the 13th general election, which has to take place before March 2013? More importantly, if this happens, will the BN be forced to truly reform for the better, and will it be able to make a comeback in the general election after?

Good news for Pakatan Rakyat

Monash University Sunway Campus's Prof Dr James Chin tells The Nut Graph that at this time, it is difficult to predict whether the BN can remain in power after the next elections.

"It depends on whether Najib can improve the economy, and this in turn will depend on whether the world economy will recover by the first quarter of 2010," he says in a telephone interview.

Chin cautions that there are many variables to look out for. The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) could be easily defeated if parliamentary Opposition Leader Anwar loses control of his coalition. It also depends on which coalition manages to woo the support of the millions of young, yet-to-be-registered voters.

"Generally speaking, however, the BN is set to lose the next general election," Chin says.