‘Third force’ may result in hung Parliament, says law expert

(The Malaysian Insider) – A constitutional law expert warned today that a political “third force” could upset the fledgling two-party system in the country and lead to a hung Parliament.

Lawyer Phillip Koh noted that the rise of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact to rival the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition was a recent phenomenon sparked by the landmark Election 2008 that swept three opposition parties into power in five states.

If either side was to take control of Putrajaya in the coming elections, it would need the support of the third group, especially if it was a large outfit.

Koh described the Barisan Rakyat, a group of 18 independent candidates lined up by influential blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin for the coming general election, as a possible vote-spoiler.

“We’ve never had a two-party system. If a ‘third force’ comes in now, they will have to be engaged,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The lawyer said it was a vital issue that PR needed to deal with before the next elections if it wanted to gain voter confidence and avoid a hung Parliament as predicted.

Koh was part of the massive legal team representing PR in the Perak crisis last year.

A hung Parliament, also known as a balanced Parliament in a two-party system, is one in which no party has an overall majority and will need to support from rival party members to pass laws.

Koh pointed to Australia’s Gillard administration as a recent example of how a minority government was formed.

Julia Gillard, who took over the Australian Labour Party from former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier this year, was able to form the government only with the support of three independent MPs and one other from the Australia Greens party.

Raja Petra, popularly known as RPK, had last week predicted that Malaysia will go the same way in the coming general election, widely speculated to be held in the next three months.

“I predict it will be a hung Parliament,” the self-exiled editor of the Malaysia Today news site had said in an Internet broadcast live from London.