CHANGE of government, or “Cabinet Changes” as it is called, is an essential indicator of political instability. It is the number of times in a year in which a new prime minister is named and/or 50% or more of the cabinet posts are occupied by new ministers.
It has been found to be associated with lower economic growth. Greater political instability leads to greater uncertainty concerning future economic policies and, consequently, to lower economic growth. (See Jong-a-Pin, “On the measurement of political instability and its impact on economic growth” European Journal of Political Economy 2009)
Studies have since provided clear empirical support for the hypothesis that political instability adversely affects economic growth, with “Cabinet Changes” always statistically significant. (See Ari Aisen and Francisco Jose Veiga, “How Does Political Instability Affect Economic Growth?”, IMF Working Paper 2011)
Aisen and Veiga wrote in their working paper for the International Monetary Fund as follows:
“Political instability is likely to shorten policymakers’ horizons leading to suboptimal short term macroeconomic policies. It may also lead to a more frequent switch of policies, creating volatility and thus, negatively affecting macroeconomic performance.”
On their empirical study to determine the effects of political instability on economic growth, they said:
“Our results are strikingly conclusive: in line with results previously documented, political instability reduces GDP growth rates significantly. An additional cabinet change (a new prime minister is named and/or 50% of cabinet posts are occupied by new ministers) reduces the annual real GDP per capita growth rate by 2.39 percentage points. This reduction is mainly due to the negative effects of political instability on total factor productivity growth, which account for more than half of the effects on GDP growth.”
The message is clear: political instability is harmful to economic growth.
The current unity government, as Kamarulzaman Mohd Nazeem and Shankar R. Santhiram wrote, may not be living up to expectations in offering “something different from what we had under the past administrations.”
Kamarulzaman wondered if it was time for a better alternative.
But there will be more instability with another change of government.
Remember what Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said in voicing his concern over rumours concerning the stability of the government?
“Enough is enough. How long more must the 30 over million people of our country endure this situation?” His Majesty asked in a Facebook post. – June 26, 2023.
* Hafiz Hassan 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.