Selangor within grasp of PN as 39 Malay-majority seats set to reject PH-BN candidates, survey finds

It cites low voter transferability between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, the two coalitions which are joining hands in the upcoming state polls.

A new survey has confirmed one of the biggest worries of Umno in the run-up to the six state elections next month: that Malay voters in Selangor who supported the party in the last elections are more likely to vote for Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidates.

In a report of a recent survey published by ISEAS Perspective, a journal from the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a political scientist and think-tank head also found that 39% of Malay voters who voted for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the general election last year said they would vote for PN in the Aug 12 state elections, while only 15% of them said they would vote for Pakatan Harapan (PH), which has inked a deal with its federal ally Barisan Nasional (BN) to avoid clashing at the polls.

“This means that there is no significant vote transferability between PH and BN Malay voters in Selangor despite the fact that the two coalitions are partners in the unity government at the federal level,” wrote Marzuki Mohamad, a political scientist at the International Islamic University, and Khairul Syakirin Zulkifli, a researcher at socio-economic think tank Institut Masa Depan Malaysia.

Vote transferability is seen as key to ensuring the success of the PH-BN alliance, where supporters of each coalition must reciprocate to deny victory to PN.

“If there is full vote transferability, both parties will enjoy a net gain in an election. But if there is no vote transferability, there is not much that the parties gain from the collaboration,” they added.

The survey involved 1,200 voters in face-to-face interviews conducted between March 1 and April 20 this year.

Malays make up some 54% of Selangor’s population, followed by Chinese (32%), Indians (13%) and other races (1%).

The ethnic composition for the study was 69% Malays, 18% Chinese and 12% Indians, reflecting the voter demography in 39 Malay-majority state seats which are the focus of the survey.

Some 24% of the samples are from rural areas of Selangor, 35% urban and 41% semi-urban. Their age groups are also reflective of current voter configurations, with those between 21 to 35 years of age forming the bulk at 46%.

What ‘unsure’ means in Malaysian election polls

Selangor is Malaysia’s wealthiest state, and as such, is seen as the epicentre of the elections which will see voters in Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu going to the polls on Aug 12 to choose their state governments.

With 56 seats up for grabs, a party must win at least 29 to form the government.

Marzuki and Khairul said while the state may be experiencing “winds of change” after a decade and a half under PH, it would still depend on the strength of PN to convert the situation in its favour.

They said the fact that a big number of respondents are “unsure” or did not indicate who they would vote for – some 46% – is not surprising in Malaysia’s election trends.

“It is an unwritten rule of thumb for Malaysian pollsters to allocate to the opposition parties a greater percentage of those in the ‘unsure voters’ category for a few reasons.

“First, these voters might have made up their minds on their party of choice but refused to disclose it for fear of retribution, especially if they are supporting an opposition political party.

“Second, as these voters voted for BN in the last general election, being ‘unsure’ this time round indicates a shift of support away from the party or its allies,” they added.

Meanwhile, their survey found that PN chairman and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is still the favourite national leader with 60% approval, followed by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim at 43%.