‘Middle’ voters the kingmakers


Lim Mun Fah, Sin Chew 

A dramatic change in the country’s political ecosystem after the March 2008 general election is that partisan lines are getting more and more distinct, and the so-called “middle” voters are increasingly being obliterated or becoming indistinguishable.

What do we mean by middle voters? Theoretically they are the voters indecisively roaming between various camps, neither leftist nor rightist, neither conservatives nor liberals. They will not be swayed by ideologies and are not politically inclined towards one side or another.

Using the theories of middle voters to analyse voter behaviour during an election, something which is quite well known is that in an intensely fought election, if the support bases of two opposing camps or candidates are comparable, they will tend to lean towards the middle voters and come up with policies that will please everyone in a bid to increase their winning bids.

That said, how many middle voters there are in Malaysia remains a very vague idea and controversial. Some say 20 per cent, some say 30 per cent and others claim 40 per cent. They all have their own reasons but none seems to be true as they all lack actual surveys to support their claims.

It cannot be denied that over the past three or four years, thanks to the aggressive mobilisations of BN and Pakatan, the erstwhile middle voters, in particular idealists who still have something to expect from the country, have more or less made up their minds.

In other words, the number of middle voters today is far smaller than that during the 2008 general election, and maybe only those who are completely apathetic towards politics. These people could hardly be bothered no matter how much effort political parties have thrown in to influence them. They are either despising politics or are completely indifferent to it, so they choose to stay out. These are the people — about 10 per cent to 20 per cent of all voters — who have never visited a polling station.

These are also the people political parties and candidates love and hate. They are loved for the precious ballots in their hands, and hated because they don’t appreciate the ballots in their hands or worry about the future of their children and grandchildren.

If both BN and Pakatan agree that their fundamental support bases have taken shape at this point of time, and that the middle voters will be the eventual kingmakers, their biggest challenge now is how to win the hearts of these uninterested voters. Any side that manages to move them will see its chances of winning significantly boosted.

Call it the biggest irony in the country’s democratic politics. When things go into a stalemate, it is these people who are least concerned about politics and know least about it that will decide who will claim the helm.

Awaken such people around you so that we can really see hope.