Badawi waving goodbye to Malaysians
February 28, 2008
With 95 parliament seats and 269 state seats in Peninsula Malaysia, Umno is by far the most dominant political party in the country.
In 2004, Umno won 95 out of the 103 (92.2%) parliament seats and 268 out of 304 (88.2%) state seats contested in the peninsular. Umno had a near perfect record in all states except in the Malay heartland of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah where it lost 32 state seats and seven parliament seats to PAS.
Its biggest prize in 2004 was snatching Terengganu back from PAS, a state it had lost in 1999 in the wake of the reformasi movement. However, this victory was marred by serious allegations of electoral fraud.
For example, the opposition lost a mere 5.2% of its total vote haul in the state – from 180,492 votes in 1999 to 171,136 votes in 2004. On the other hand, Umno secured votes totaling 222,084 – a mammoth jump of 72% as compared to the 128,912 votes it got in 1999.
In total, there were an additional 83,816 votes cast in 2004, a growth of 27% from 1999. For Umno to achieve its feat in almost doubling its popular votes in Terengganu, all these additional and new votes would have gone to the party.
These figures plus the fact that several constituencies had turnouts of above 90% have casts serious doubts on the credibility of the electoral process.
In this general election, Umno has set its sights on capturing Kelantan, a state ruled by PAS since 1990. There is fear among PAS that Kelantan would face similar 90-plus-percent turnouts. If that is the case, Umno would have achieved its 18-year ambition to wrest the state from the clutches of the Islamic Party.
But if all things remain equal and with a 5% swing of voters towards the BN, Umno stands to capture up to 14 state seats and four parliament seats. However, if these voters swing towards the opposition, Umno will lose 10 state seats and six parliament seats.
A swing among Malay voters?
In Terengganu, a 5% swing among Malay voters will see PAS pick up two marginal parliament seats – Kuala Terengganu and Marang, as well as 10 state seats – just a couple of seats from winning back the state. A similar swing in Kedah will see the opposition pick up four parliament and six state seats.
Voter swing is the proportion of those who had voted for a particular party in the last election changing their votes this time.
In other states, Umno will also be watching closely the swing among non-Malays as some of its seats have sizable percentage of such voters.
A 10% swing among non-Malay voters and a 5% swing among Malays, will see Umno losing Parit Buntar in Perak (majority 4,698), Bera, Pahang (majority 4.470), Nibong Tebal, Penang (majority 6,005) and Pokok Sena in Kedah. (majority 7,300).
Umno may also lose seats with a heavy Indian voting base if the swing among Indian voters is larger than expected.
These include Bagan Serai (majority 5,614, Indian voters: 10.4%) and Bagan Datok (majority 12,539, Indian voters: 22.6%) in Perak, Tanjong Karang (majority 9,008: Indian voters: 11.1%), Kuala Selangor (majority 13,662, Indian voters: 23.3%) in Selangor, and Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur (majority 15,288, Indian voters: 18.2%).
After benefitting from a sizable swing among Malay voters to the government in 2004, Umno’s electoral fortunes in the upcoming election will heavily depend on these voters sticking with BN.
However, after four years of ineffectual leadership by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, we expect a slight swing against the government among Malay voters in 2008, which could result in Umno losing some seven parliament seats, and perhaps as many as 10 seats.
Dari Eddieputra, Club Anwar Ibrahim, Kawasan Parliamen Subang: