Tiresomely hoary ‘popular vote’ bellyaching

Azmi Anshar, NST

ONE year on, the opposition axis’ can’t exorcise the devil possessing them – the illogic that they should have had a coronation to Putrajaya after winning 50.87 per cent of last year’s May 5 general election popular vote despite their convincing 133–89 loss to Barisan Nasional in the Parliamentary stakes.

The general election rule on how a party wins is blindingly unsophisticated – since 1955, any party or alliances of parties commanding a simple majority (in this case winning 112 or more Dewan Rakyat seats) are the absolute and rightful rulers.

It’s a rule carved in stone decades ago and undoubtedly will still be carved in stone in decades to come – unless the ruling Barisan Nasional supports a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution to switch to a prime ministerial election, just to entertain this bogus popular vote claim.

So, why do axis leaders continually bellyache that popular votes, not parliamentary seats, equals polls victory, ergo the Anwar administration? In a nutshell: unfettered frustration, resentment and cynicism.

Frustratingly, the axis was so close and yet so far, a frustration that feeds into the rancorous resentment that despite their ability to dominate cyberspace chatter and rattle the ruling party, they were floored by the rules of the game, unable to differentiate between best effort and winning effort.

Mind you, that innate frustration/resentment was synthesised days before the May 5 polling into cynicism converted into spurious claims of imaginary Bangladeshi voters, blackouts, fortuitous “nabbing” of foreigners trying to vote, smearing of Malaysian voters just because they weren’t the “right colour”.

That same cynicism turns them into feral antagonists lathering untenable howls of electoral deception (unless you mean the ones recurring in PKR and DAP), inane assessment of MH370’s inexplicable disappearance and glib posturing at anti-GST protests without rationalising the tax’s long-term implications.

The whinging manifested again in a second-tier meeting with US National Security Advisor Susan Rice after they failed to get up close and personal with Barack Obama as they smarted from the US president’s putdown of Anwar’s misadventures in ironies.

Here’s another delicious irony: Rice can’t help but condescend a little smirk at Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s rant of popular vote loss.

Rice would recall that Al Gore, one of Anwar’s American soul mates, eventually conceded to George W. Bush’ in the 2000 controversial presidential election marred by the controversially unresolved recounts of votes in Florida that had to be arbitrated by the Supreme Court despite Gore winning the popular vote.

Credit Gore for honourably accepting the court verdict over recounts that might have favoured the former ex-vice president while not lamenting that winning by popular vote does not translate into taking possession of the White House.

The American presidential election is won by variables of electoral collages spread across 50 states – the more colleges you win, the better your chances are at becoming POTUS even if more voters preferred you.

So why can’t Anwar (and his DAP and Pas ilk) bow before the resoluteness of the Parliamentary first-past-the-post principle? Again, it’s down to frustration, resentment and cynicism.

Had the 50.87 popular vote speciousness resulted in forming a PKR-DAP-Pas government, then the following analogies would not be impossible:

• Bayern Munich would be in the Champions League final instead of Real Madrid after the German outfit controlled 70 per cent possession with their dreary passing game but destroyed by Madrid’s swift counter-attacking power; and,

• George Foreman should have been the 1974 world heavyweight champion by unanimous points decision while he was being rope-a-doped by a tactically cunning Muhammad Ali, who took a horrific pounding before he knocked out the younger but deflated Foreman in the eighth round; and,

• Datuks Lee Chong Wei and Nichol David would have lost more world badminton and squash championships because their opponents bested the two on points aggregate rather than losing to them in a series of best of three/five sets.

These uncomplicated analogies might have been articulated before these frustrated, resentful and cynical minds but how else to dissuade political egocentrics who can’t and won’t accept realities of the game.

However, if popular vote is the name of the game, where the prime ministerial contest is determined by 10.8 million voters in a straight fight at the top, then the dynamics, campaigning, canvassing, lobbying and mindset will be starkly recalibrated.

Participating parties and independent candidates would have re-attuned their hustings to exponentially reach out directly to the 10.8 million voters spread across 13 states with electioneering no longer subscribing to the idea of winning 222 constituencies.

A different ball game with new rules would be played to secure as much votes as possible from a central standpoint but the difference is, the whinging about popular vote would instead be valid.