GE15: The possibility of an unexpected PM

We may have overlooked another possibility. What if the nominee for prime minister fails to win a seat but his party wins the largest number of seats?

(FMT) – This general election is turning out to be a contest between several men who wish to become the next prime minister, not so much about political parties as in the past.

In the previous general election, the focus was on whether Barisan Nasional would retain its hold on government or the Pakatan Harapan would be able to claim a historic victory. In earlier elections, the focus was on whether BN could retain its two-thirds majority.

Until 2018, no one expended time thinking about who would be prime minister. It was a given that whoever was occupying the Umno presidency would be named prime minister.

So the spotlight is falling on those leading the various coalitions, as this has become a factor for consideration.

Also, both PH and PN have been pushing the message that BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is set to become prime minister if BN wins, not Ismail Sabri Yaakob as promised.

They hope to create fear in voters that Zahid, who faces corruption charges in court, will end up as prime minister if they vote for BN.

To counter this, BN leaders, including Zahid, have said Ismail remains BN’s prime ministerial candidate. On Nov 14, BN deputy chairman Mohamad Hasan reiterated that Ismail remained the coalition’s choice for prime minister.

Voters have four candidates before them: Ismail, Muhyiddin Yassin of PN, Anwar Ibrahim of PH and Mahathir of GTA.

If BN wins, and Ismail is appointed prime minister, we can expect to see a continuation of what he was doing, including his “Keluarga Malaysia” concept. There are not likely to be changes in the way the government is run and the policies pursued.

In an interview with FMT, the Umno vice-president pledged to form an inclusive government that would cherish and thrive on diverse views if he received the mandate to be prime minister again.

Voters can also expect more of the same if Muhyiddin becomes prime minister for a second stint. He was prime minister for 17 months before Ismail and after Mahathir.

Most Malaysians, and analysts, dismiss Mahathir’s chances of returning to head the government for a third period.

While Mahathir, Muhyiddin and Ismail have occupied the top seat in Putrajaya, Anwar has not, although he has been tantalisingly close to it not once but twice.

Anwar is picking up non-Malay support and the backing of urban Malays with his promise of structural reforms and an undertaking to be a prime minister for Malays, Chinese, Indians and those in Sabah and Sarawak, and not just for one community.

Although there are also those, especially among the Malays, who view Anwar with suspicion, the combination of his popularity and that of PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli may yet propel him into the prime minister’s seat.

Rafizi is very popular with youngsters and urban voters who see in him a fresh opportunity for a new beginning.

But we may have overlooked another possibility. What if the nominee for prime minister fails to win a seat but his party wins the largest number of seats?

For instance, in the unlikely event that Anwar loses in the contest for the Tambun seat, Rafizi could be catapulted to the top spot. And in the unlikely event that Ismail loses in Bera, Mohamad would be in line for the post.

If Muhyiddin loses in Pagoh, his deputy Azmin Ali or PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang may very well become the unexpected prime minister.

Although this also depends on whether they win the parliamentary seats that they are contesting, it is not an impossible scenario. Think about it. What a turn of events that would be.