Forget the 79% of votes you got in Selangor in GE14, PH-BN told

(FMT) – If the combined votes obtained by Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) at the 2018 state election in Selangor are anything to go by, it is going to be a walk in the park for the unity government in the upcoming polls.

Of the estimated two million people who cast their ballot, current PH parties obtained 58% (DAP 25%, PKR 24% and Amanah 9%) of the votes and BN a further 21% (Umno 16%, MCA 4% and MIC 1%).

In contrast, 14% of the electorate voted for PAS, which fought on its own.

Meanwhile, Bersatu – which was part of PH in 2018 – obtained only 6%, thus giving Perikatan Nasional (PN) a total of 20%. The remaining 1% voted for other candidates.

However, political analyst Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Centre said the unity government partners will need to tread carefully as the trend from November’s general election (GE15) indicates changes are due in the upcoming state polls.

He said the number of voters in Selangor has grown by more than 55% from 2.42 million in 2018 to 3.75 million on the latest roll – due to the automatic voter registration and Undi18 – and this has the potential to throw the race wide open.

According to Ibrahim, state elections are often influenced by more localised issues, thus adding a further dimension to last year’s federal polls.

In the context of Selangor, Ibrahim said that there is a significant difference between federal and state when it comes to party preference.

“In GE15, it was clear that most of the voters based their choices on parties. However, some young and female Malay voters considered personalities and issues before casting their ballot,” he told FMT.

PH has the power of incumbency aided by its fairly successful three-term reign in Selangor.

However, Ibrahim said the addition of Umno to the coalition now changes local dynamics, not least among PH supporters who may find it difficult to accept the alliance with the long-time rival.

“Hence, vote transferability from BN supporters to PH candidates and vice versa may be a challenge.

“Umno supporters may opt to stay out or even support PN candidates due to dissatisfaction with their own leaders.”

Ibrahim said another factor that is expected to play a significant role is the public perception of the Anwar Ibrahim-led government.

“Although a survey by Merdeka Center in February showed a 68% approval rating for Anwar and that the country was generally moving in the right direction, this sentiment could change over the next couple of months.

“We are observing that young Malay voters are warming up to Anwar and PH.

“They could be wary of PN’s focus on race and religion and the lack of tangible suggestions on how to improve cost-of-living issues.

“However, this could be fleeting. So, PH has to work harder to show that its decision to partner Umno-BN is for the long term, even though it’s an open secret that some BN leaders are uncomfortable with the arrangement,” he said.

Ibrahim said Umno also faces a daunting task following its dismal performance in GE15.