Strategic move behind snap polls

THERE are rumours circulating that there may be snap polls as early as this year to resolve the political crisis plaguing the country.

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun has said the EC is prepared for such an eventuality.

There are a few reasons why it would be more strategic for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government and/or its coalition partners to call for snap polls this year rather than at a later date.

Reason 1: The likely unfavourable youth vote

Although Parliament has passed a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18, the EC appears to only be able to implement this in June or July next year.

It cannot be denied that the constitutional amendment required bipartisan effort.

Nevertheless, it is largely seen to be a Pakatan Harapan (PH) initiative especially since it is a fulfilment of Promise 17 of its GE14 manifesto.

Further, with regard to GE14, the youth vote (namely those aged 40 years old and below) has been largely credited as one of the reasons PH succeeded.

PH, at least at the time of GE14, was largely popular with younger voters.

If this is still the case, it would be better for PN to conduct snap polls this year rather than wait for new youth votes (namely of those aged 18 to 20) to be thrown into the mix.

Reason 2: The influx of unpredictable new votes

In March 2017, the then EC chairman stated that there were a total of 4.1 million unregistered voters.

Since these four million individuals are unregistered, there are no data sets with regard to their voting patterns/behaviours. These unpredictable new votes may or may not work against PN.

In order to err on the safe side, it would be more strategic for snap polls to be held this year.

Reason 3: The fresh success in dealing with Covid-19

Shortly after Muhyiddin Yassin took over the helm, his leadership faced a major test in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has done a sufficiently good job thus far and Malaysia has been hailed as one of the top five countries in the world to have successfully contained the pandemic.

Covid-19 will be fresh on the minds of the voters and it may be strategic to capitalise on this as a talking point in favour of the PN government.

Strategy aside, snap polls would place power back in the hands of the electorate.

The issue of the legitimacy of the PN government can be resolved determinatively at the ballot box. – June 16, 2020.

* Joshua Wu reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • Having snap polls on the heels of the worst pandemic in a generation with unprecedented business closures and cutbacks and mounting unemployment is hardly a smart move.

    Posted 2 years ago by Jeyakumar Sundralingam · Reply