Coalition politics healthy for democracy, says analyst

(FMT) – Coalition politics can develop the country’s democracy, a political analyst said today.

Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham (Malaysia) said coalitions gave voters a wider range of choices and forced political parties to adopt a more consensus-building approach.

Coalition politics allowed the emergence of new policy ideas and input, she pointed out at a Bersih 2.0 webinar today.

“If we look at Pakatan Harapan (PH) and, even to a certain degree, the new Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition in Sabah, there’s a sense of inclusivity. Different groups are within that, so they have to make compromises.”

She also said compromises had been made within the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, where religious discussions were now less “toxic” or “confrontational”.

However, Welsh said coalition politics also brought along their share of political instability, with Malaysia seeing three governments and three different prime ministers over the last three years.

She added that they took focus away from policy-making and addressing issues that mattered to the public.

She said Malaysians, besides their democratic rights, also want politicians to focus on issues they put them in office for.

Commenting on the Sabah elections, which contributed to a surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide, Welsh urged the Election Commission (EC) to consider the idea of remote voting.

This way, she said, Sabahans and Sarawakians living in the peninsula could vote at designated polling stations without flying home.

Voters could submit their ballots a few days prior to the actual election date and have them shipped back in time for counting.

“Remote voting is an alternative and it is useful to have a conversation about what new procedures can be put in place to create greater safety.

“This is one of the lessons from the Sabah elections.”

She said much safer elections were necessary, especially with speculation rife on an early general election and the impending Sarawak polls which some say may be held in November.