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Think tank: Two scenarios for Umno in GE14

 | August 18, 2017

Umno will lose seats in GE14, the only question being how many, says think tank Political Studies for Change, which also predicts that Indian votes will be key to which coalition wins.

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PETALING JAYA: A think tank says the outcome of the 14th general election (GE14) will be largely determined by how many parliamentary seats Umno loses due to the split within the party that resulted in the formation of PPBM.

Political Studies for Change (KPRU) pointed out that whenever Umno faced a split of “meaningful” proportions – resulting in some leaving the party – its Malay votes would drop and its parliamentary seats would be reduced.

KPRU executive director Ooi Heng said this was the case before the 1990 general election, when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah parted ways with Dr Mahathir Mohamad and left Umno to form Semangat 46. As a result, the number of parliamentary seats won by Umno that year dropped from 83 in 1986 to 71 in 1990.

Similarly, Umno’s parliamentary seats saw a dip in the 1999 general election after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked (resulting in the formation Parti Keadilan Nasional) dropping by 17 seats from 89 in 1995 to 72 in 1999.

Looking towards GE14, Ooi said there were two possible scenarios.

In the first scenario, Umno would lose 15 to 20 seats from the 88 it had won in GE13, leaving it with 68 to 73 seats.

He said this scenario assumed that every “meaningful split” within Umno would result in a more severe division than before.

“This would mean that Umno’s performance in 1999 as compared with 1995 was worse than its 1990 result as compared with 1986.

“Based on this, its result in GE14 as compared with GE13 will be relatively worse than GE10 (1999) as compared with GE9 (1995), or close to that.”

In the second scenario, he said, not only would Umno perform worse than before, it would also demonstrate “the worst fall in history”, losing 25 to 30 seats. If this happens in GE14, Umno will be left with only 58 to 63 seats.

Ooi said the second scenario took into consideration the fact that among former party leaders who had led the opposition to challenge Umno in the past, the highest ranking individual had been a deputy prime minister.

“This round, Mahathir is a former prime minister who was in office for 22 years,” he said.

He added that the elections in 2008 and 2013 had also successfully changed the political landscape, shaking up the one-party dominant system which had until then seemed unchallengeable.

“Based on this scenario, other than Umno showing a definite loss of parliamentary seats, the overall result of Barisan Nasional (BN) in GE14 will not repeat the situation in GE10 (1999) where ‘the Malay voters opposed but the non-Malay voters did not oppose’, or a result where ‘BN saved Umno’,” he said.

“In the 1990 and 1999 elections, even though Umno faced splintering, the one-party dominant system had not been thawed.

“Today, after experiencing the change in political landscape through the 2008 and 2013 elections, the one-party dominant system has loosened. Based on this, this time there will not be a result where ‘BN saved Umno’.”

Meanwhile, he said, BN could expect to see an increase in Chinese votes in GE14, but this won’t be enough. The key vote block is with the Indian community.

He said the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, should not underrate the ethnic Indian voters.

Ooi said if the opposition focused only on the 30 seats with more than 50% of Chinese voters, BN would likely be able to obtain a greater proportion of Indian voters in GE14.

He added that although BN had lost 49% of its Indian votes in 2008, it had regained 10% in 2013.

According to the electoral map in 2013, he said, there were 60 parliamentary seats with more than 10% of Indian voters – 52 seats with 10%-20% and the remaining eight seats with 21%-30%.

“Even though, in the 2013 election results, Pakatan Rakyat had only 10 Indian MPs, these 60 constituencies with more than 10% Indians will also affect the chances of winning for the non-Indians in these constituencies.

“In order to prevent the situation of ‘BN saving Umno’ from happening in GE14, Pakatan Harapan should work more on addressing the Indian community’s needs and issues of concern, and propose an effective policy for it.”


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