Analysts: Umno may still win big if it goes alone in GE15, but risks self-sabotage if tension with PAS prolongs

Umno’s suggestion that it may contest the 15th general election (GE15) alone could sabotage the Malay nationalist party’s own chances at expanding its control of Parliament, political analysts said. 

(MMO) – Even as the Barisan Nasional (BN) lynchpin’s clout among the Malay electorate remains solid, pundits said exacerbating tension with PAS could pit the two parties against each other and split the conservative votes, a scenario that would play into the hands of their political rivals.

At Umno’s 75th general assembly over the weekend, party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it had no qualms about contesting under the BN banner, which intensified speculation that it was prepared to sever ties with PAS.

The duo are part of the Muafakat Nasional electoral pact but relations between them have been rocked by Umno’s clash with Bersatu.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said prolonged tension with PAS would be strategically impractical for Umno, who would still need to negotiate some form of deal to prevent multi-cornered contests.

“Umno is still very influential despite the emergence of Bersatu. Umno’s vow to go alone is with regards to Bersatu and PH, but is not necessarily directed at PAS,” he said.

“PAS is wooed by both Umno and Bersatu as its electoral mobilisation machinery is legendary and could benefit whomever is its ally. At the least, Umno would not like to face PAS again as it did in 2018, which cost Umno the election.”

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