Fix economy, then call elections, says analyst

Political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani warns against holding snap polls while the economy is weak.

PETALING JAYA: An analyst has suggested that Perikatan Nasional (PN) wait for the economy to pick up before any decision to call for a general election, adding that the coalition should iron out seat allocations in advance to prevent any last-minute betrayals.

Azizuddin Mohd Sani, a professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia, said it might be too soon to dissolve Parliament and state assemblies this year as the economic outlook remained weak.

He also warned against taking seat allocations lightly.

“If they rush, Umno leaders may also boycott PN for not getting enough seats,” he told FMT.

Umno and its Barisan Nasional (BN) partners form the largest bloc in the PN coalition with 43 seats. PPBM has 32, PAS 18 and GPS 18 with the remaining three seats held by smaller parties.

However, Umno and PAS are also partners in the Muafakat Nasional alliance which could command as many as 61 seats.

Azizuddin said PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin, who is prime minister, should not take the issue of seat allocation lightly as Muafakat Nasional could retaliate or abandon PN at the last minute.

“They may boycott PN if the seat issue is not handled properly,” he said, adding that Umno knew it would have the backing of party loyalists during the election.

He said PN might need at least six months to work out the details and ensure that the benefits of its economic policies are felt by the people.

Expectations of early elections were raised on July 5, when senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said the government may call for snap polls this year or next, having managed to overcome political, economic and public health crises.

Azizuddin said the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition would need to win over the Malay electorate, recommending that it work with a party commanding a solid Malay base to do so.

However, he said its chances were slim as PKR was a multiracial party and DAP had yet to be widely accepted by the Malay community while Amanah lacked the grassroots support commanded by Muafakat Nasional.

Another political analyst, Awang Azman Pawi, said Azmin should not be overly confident of the four-month-old coalition’s achievements.

He said PN must win the political trust of the people and ensure that the targeted groups benefit from the stimulus packages recently announced.

He added that PPBM might have to go it alone if Umno and PAS pull out of the coalition once Parliament is dissolved.

“At the last minute, anything can happen,” he said. “They can ask that candidates from Muafakat Nasional be nominated for the positions of prime minister and deputy prime minister, as happened in February with the so-called Sheraton Move which unexpectedly saw Muhyiddin becoming the prime minister.”

He said younger people in urban areas might also want to see the mandate restored to the previous government and vote against PN in protest against the Sheraton Move.

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