PN will make waves in coming state polls, say analysts

(The Star) – Analysts believe Perikatan Nasional will continue to make waves in the upcoming state elections, especially in Malay-majority states.

The coalition won 74 seats in the 15th General Election, fuelling talk that the PAS-led green wave is gaining momentum.

PAS contributed 49 seats to the total, with the remainder from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

The six states that will be holding elections this year are the Pakatan Harapan-held Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan; and the Perikatan-led Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb believes the wave will continue in Kedah, where the coalition swept 14 out 15 parliamentary seats in GE15.

“An overwhelming number of Malay voters see Perikatan as a credible alternative to Umno and Pakatan especially now that the latter two are working together.

“I expect Perikatan to continue making waves in the upcoming state elections especially in Malay-majority seats.

“It’s hard to see the trend reversing anytime soon since it depends heavily on the economic performance of Anwar’s government,” he said.

Azmil added that Perikatan’s tactics had positioned it as a reliable alternative for the Malays, even among long-time Umno supporters.

“There’s also a real possibility that many Barisan Nasional and Pakatan supporters may sit out the state election, handing Perikatan an easy victory.

“The current government had not done anything to quell the Perikatan surge. The Padang Serai election was a clear indicator that many Pakatan and Umno supporters were not keen on this alliance,” he added.

He said the current government needed to perform well economically by lowering cost of living, creating jobs, providing and reinstating many subsidies to the Bottom 40 group and young people to win votes.

Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) said the Perikatan momentum was still strong, but it was premature to conclude that it could take over the governments of Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.

He noted that Perikatan’s strength lies with PAS which thrives on religious sentiment.

“When all else fails, the supporters are reminded that they should simply follow the tok gurus who can do no wrong. These sentiments work in the Malay belt, but not so in these three states under Pakatan,” he said.

He pointed out that Perikatan had used TikTok to its advantage, including sponsoring content to promote its message.

“Somehow, youths with short attention spans are more attracted to this kind of material,” he said, adding that Perikatan had increased its share of the vote in all states in GE15.

“However, that increase was not sufficient to surpass Pakatan’s votes in Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan,” he added.

PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang said on Jan 10 that there was strong support for Perikatan in GE15, with the coalition making a clean sweep of parliamentary seats in its bastions of Kelantan and Terengganu, and only losing one seat in Kedah.

He also expressed confidence that the momentum would continue in light of uncertainties over the national unity government.

Hadi, who is also Perikatan deputy chairman, said seat talks for the six state elections were 80% complete.