Melaka polls, a testing ground for PN

While the coalition is seen as the underdog next to BN and PH, it could still put up a stiff fight.

Azzman Abdul Jamal, Malaysia Now

The Melaka state election this weekend will be a litmus test for Perikatan Nasional (PN) to gauge the extent of its impact and challenge towards the more established Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalitions, an analyst says.

Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of Ilham Centre, said PN’s achievements in the Nov 20 polls would also allow it to assess its strength for the first time in such a context.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said while PN is seen as the underdog in this election, it could put up a stiff fight based on the presentation of its candidates and the announcement of its manifesto which places a strong emphasis on issues related to integrity.

“Aside from fielding many new faces who are seen as professionals, they are also sending out the most women candidates – six.”

Nevertheless, he said, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough for the vote to swing its way come election day.

PN will need to win at least 40% of the vote in three-way fights in order to emerge the victor.

“PN’s strength is fundamentally based on votes from PAS,” Hisommudin said. “So we will see how much Bersatu and Gerakan can contribute in terms of significant support for PN.”

Given the unprecedented restrictions on campaigns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, it would be difficult to predict which party or candidate will have the edge.

But in any event, he said, voter turnout is expected to be low as outstation voters are unlikely to return for polling day.

“The Chinese voters also appear less enthusiastic than during the 14th general election, so the advantage might go to BN,” he said.

“Melaka has a strong base of BN support, so if those who provide the swing vote do not return, especially the young voters from outside the constituency, the situation will benefit BN.”

On the independent candidates contesting the election, he said it would be difficult for them to beat the three coalitions based on the trend of voting in the peninsula.

“I am not denying their skills or opportunity, but based on the voting trend and record in Peninsular Malaysia, their chances are minimal,” he said.

When asked about the effectiveness of campaigning online, he said obtaining seemingly high support on social media does not reflect the actual situation as those who lend their support online may or may not be from the Melaka voter base.

“When we hold live media conferences on Facebook and so on, we cannot be sure whether those who join the stream are really voters,” he said.

“So the numbers we see during the live session cannot be used to gauge the level of support for the candidate in question.”