Is GE13 really do or die for BN and PR?


Right now, everyone is trying to be on their best behaviour as they have their eyes on the ball. The aim is to defeat BN and to take over Putrajaya. But, as mentioned earlier, defeat always leads to finger-pointing and bickering. If PR fails to win in the election, we could very well see the splintering of the opposition pact. 

Oon Yeoh, The Sun Daily

There’s no question the upcoming 13th general election is a critical one, and perhaps the most important so far in our country’s history. In the last general election, the Opposition made a serious dent in the government’s armour and is now poised to seriously challenge it for control of Putrajaya.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we are at a crossroads. To borrow a phrase from former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, voters will have to decide on whether to stick with the devil they know or the angel they don’t.

Choosing the former means opting for evolution, or gradual change; choosing the latter means opting for revolution, or radical change. The choice is a stark one not a subtle one, and there is a lot at stake. But is it a “do or die” situation for either side?

If you listen to the rhetoric from both camps, it sure sounds like it. But will defeat be the end for the loser? Let’s look at some scenarios, starting with Barisan Nasional (BN).

BN suffered its biggest setback in the 2008 general election when it lost five states (though it later regained one through some crossovers) and its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament. Umno, the leading component in BN, managed to weather the political tsunami better than MCA, MIC and Gerakan, its key coalition partners. But it did result in a leadership change in Umno and correspondingly, the government.

If BN were to lose in the election, there will be massive changes on almost every front. Such a dramatic reversal of fortune could be a storm the coalition might not be able to weather. It’s not difficult to imagine some key components leaving the coalition because defeat often leads to a lot of finger-pointing and bickering. Umno itself would probably be racked with infighting.

In such a scenario, you could envision the crumbling of BN. But there is an alternative scenario. An unprecedented defeat in the polls could be the very wake-up call that BN needs, and an opportunity for a new generation of politicians to rise up and re-energise the coalition. It could be a perfect example of creative destruction, of a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

What about Pakatan Rakyat (PR)? Its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said that this is his last election. If that’s not mere rhetoric, one can’t help but wonder if the opposition coalition would be able to survive both the loss of the general election and the departure of its leader, who is commonly viewed as the glue that holds the coalition together.

Although DAP and PAS have learned to work together – and quite well too, in the case of Perak – fissures could erupt anytime, especially over the issue of hudud.

Right now, everyone is trying to be on their best behaviour as they have their eyes on the ball. The aim is to defeat BN and to take over Putrajaya. But, as mentioned earlier, defeat always leads to finger-pointing and bickering. If PR fails to win in the election, we could very well see the splintering of the opposition pact.

But what’s more likely to happen is that the old guards will not fade away but perhaps take a back seat and become advisers to the younger generation. There is certainly no shortage of young, capable and dynamic leaders in PR. They might not have much political experience, which is why the old guards are still needed, but they have the energy and determination to trudge on for another five years until the next battle.

So yes, while political decimation is certainly a possibility for both BN and PR in the event of a defeat in this most critical of elections, but I am convinced the two-party system is here to stay and most likely what we will see happening in the vanquished coalition are fresh, new faces rising to the top. And that’s not a bad thing.

 



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