No outright winner likely this time, say analysts

(The Star) – The nominations are done, the campaign has begun and the challenge ahead looks clearer.

However, political observers still foresee a close fight with no outright winner or at least no one coalition with a clear majority.

All but nine of the 222 parliamentary seats – eight in Sarawak and one in Sabah – will see multi-cornered fights and the results in most cases are anybody’s guess.

Independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng, senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research Azmi Hasan, and Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb all concurred that no single coalition would command a majority to be the next government.

However, Khoo said Barisan Nasional could emerge the winner due to voters wanting stability.

Azmi said a hung parliament was also unlikely.

Instead, he argued that the outcome of GE15 could see a unity government being formed between a dominant coalition from the peninsula and coalitions and parties based in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Most probably, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) (will be in the unity government). If that’s not enough, then Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and a few parties in Sabah could be roped in,” added Azmi.

He also noted that there could be new political alignments after the elections, as there was a possibility that one coalition in the peninsula could secure about 80-90 seats.

“I don’t think these peninsular coalitions will work with one another.

“Barisan has the advantage because of its Malay-majority support. It is also the preferred partner for GPS,” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said Pakatan Harapan would likely benefit if voter turnout was high.

“Pakatan’s goal is to secure as many seats as possible to put it in a strong negotiating position. The same goes for BN-Umno and Perikatan Nasional too,” he said.

Azmil said the race was likely to be between two parties even in crowded fields, such as Kelantan, and parts of Kedah and Terengganu, where the main choices are Umno and PAS.

He, too, said post-GE15 political alliances were likely with several possible “permutations”.

“It depends on which party is in the strongest position to negotiate, post-election,” he said.

Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Dr Oh Ei Sun said a large number of voters would focus on candidates representing major parties or coalitions.

He too said a unity government of several parties or coalitions was very likely.

“Almost certainly, all parties and coalitions will scramble to form partnerships, even with political rivals,” he said.