Tuesday 9 August 2011

Opposition may take 100 federal seats in GE13

The July 9 rally by the coalition for clean and fair elections (Bersih 2.0) may push Pakatan Rakyat's 2008 tally of 75 federal seats to a whopping 100 seats in the next general election, said political scientist Wong Chin Huat.

However, this will still be 12 seats short of a takeover of the federal government to which the opposition coalition aspires.

NONEAddressing a packed audience at a seminar at Monash University in Sunway today, Wong, who is also a member of Bersih 2.0 steering committee, said the expected swing is due to the BN government's reaction to the rally, which changed sentiments in 55 'marginal seats'.

"Bersih 2.0 may increase the chances for Pakatan in 20 seats won (marginally) by BN and strengthen Pakatan's position in 33 of its marginal seats," he said of findings based on voter demographic and electoral outcomes from the 2008 general election and subsequent parliamentary by-elections.

The same effect is expected in the Independent-held seats of Wangsa Maju, Nibong Tebal and Bayan Baru, which are located in urban areas in Kuala Lumpur and Penang respectively.
Wong also anticipates that Ibrahim Ali will lose his Pasir Mas seat in Kelantan.

PSM, he said, should retain its Sungai Siput seat, which it won with a small margin, after the recent detention of parliamentarian Dr Michael D Jeyakumar.

"Demographically it was a dangerous seat (for PSM) but the detention has benefitted Jeyakumar, in terms of sympathy votes. He will see a return of Indian support to get a more convincing win," he told Malaysiakini after the seminar today.

NONEHe defined opposition marginal seats as those won by a margin of within 10 percent, while BN marginal seats were won with a margin within 10 percent, 15 percent, or those with more than 28.57 percent Chinese voters.
He added that the two SAPP seats, which are harder to predict, are likely to be affected by Bersih 2.0 following an expose on foreigners registered as voters.

Wong said that Pakatan is also expected to retain marginally-won Sibu, Kuantan and Indera Mahkota, but this is not because of Bersih 2.0 but other issues like the Lynas rare earth issue in the case of the latter two constituencies.

'Middle ground shift'

The academic noted that his research, which does not take into account the recent Sarawak election, was conducted on the premise that Bersih 2.0 has shifted the mood in favour of the opposition.

“It has put the opposition on the offensive and the BN government on the defensive.

“It may sway middle ground voters, who may not be voting for Pakatan but making a protest vote against BN,” he said.

He added that the winds of change, however, would reach urban areas with the exception of Kedah, which he believes has fallen out of favour with town-folk there.

“The areas affected are places like Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor, which are urban or semi-urban, like (BN-held) Segamat and Teluk Kemang,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said that rural areas in Pakatan-held states, too, would feel the affect, plus Terengganu which has a strong grassroots PAS presence.

“The only rural Perak area expected to be affected may be Bukit Gantang, because of (PAS incumbent) Nizar Jamaluddin,” he said.

'MCA worst-hit by Bersih-nami'

The party likely to be worst hit by the "Bersih-nami", said Wong is MCA, which he said could lose "six out of seven of its marginal seats, except for Alor Setar because of the Kedah government".

azlan“The number is short of what (Pakatan leader) Anwar Ibrahim would hope for. There could be a change of government if Sabah and Sarawak follow the trend, but the situation is more fluid there and it is hard to estimate,” he said.

The Monash University lecturer, however, was careful to point out that this does not mean that Bersih 2.0 is a Pakatan tool, rather that the affects on BN were “self-inflicted” by their use of “machinery, muscle, media and monarchy”.

He said BN caused self-damage by using its “government machinery” to “rig” the Sarawak election, groups like Perkasa and silat lincah to show “muscle” and BN-linked mainstream “media” to send out its message, including using the Agong's advice for its own purposes.

Wong noted that by doing so Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had inadvertently started a “political transformation programme (PTP)”.

He said the political modernisation process of a nation involves the ousting of an ethnically or culturally foreign ruler and the subsequent democratisation of a nation.

"Many third world countries get stuck in the decolonisation mood, preserving the colonial apparatus and changing only the masters.

"By suppressing Bersih 2.0, PM Najib has unwittingly triggered the PTP where private (ethnic) violence is denounced and the state (police) violence is cutting across ethno-religious lines," he said. 


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