Pakatan sure of winning nearly 140 federal seats, say sources

Jahabar Sadiq, The Malaysian Insider

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is confident of snaring nearly 140 parliamentary seats in Election 2013, with wins in Sabah, Sarawak and Johor giving the pact a simple majority to form the government, say sources.

The Malaysian Insider understands that PR leaders have calculated their chances in a number of states but their numbers hinge on getting opposition forces in Sabah on the same page.

Despite PR’s confidence, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has carried out surveys that show it can win up to 145 federal seats, above the 112 seats for a simple majority and below 148 seats for a two-thirds majority.

Independent surveys however show BN can scrape through with 117 seats to PR’s 105, with the latest electoral poll survey showing Umno’s approval rating is near 40 per cent, far off from the approval rating for Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Pakatan leaders are talking about winning 138 seats at least, maybe up to 140 with a lot of hard work that has been put in since 2008,” a source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the last general election where the three PR parties swept 82 federal seats and five states.

The victories by the DAP, PAS and PKR, after an electoral pact in 2008, paved for PR’s formation although the pact has yet to be registered. BN is the only registered political coalition in Malaysia.

PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had told the Bloomberg news service that the main battle for votes in Election 2013 will be in Sabah and Sarawak, which offer 56 of the 222 Parliament seats.

Both Borneo states are seen as a “fixed deposit” for BN but an on-going Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into citizenship-for-votes in Sabah has put the ruling coalition in bad light.

A stand-off with armed Sulu militants in the east coast town of Lahad Datu in Sabah has raised questions about Putrajaya’s ability to defend its eastern-most state.

It is understood that PR hopes to score big in Sarawak and Sabah, not just in urban areas where the dominant Chinese community favours opposition parties but also in several rural areas where PR leaders have received a warm welcome.