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The spring that never came for BN

July 2, 2018

THE final 10 days of campaigning proved to be the straw that broke Barisan Nasional’s back, an International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) study showed.

In those last 10 days, BN’s popularity fell from 39% to 31%. On the other hand, Pakatan Harapan and PAS’ popularity went up by 10% and 5%, respectively, said the survey.

“The big shift during the campaign period killed BN,” said Prof Dr Syed Arabi Idid, adding such a thing had never before happened in Malaysian politics.

The political science academic attributed this to Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was able to link former prime minister Najib Razak to the GST and subsequently the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.

Another factor was the effectiveness of the Pakatan campaign among the rural and Felda areas. In GE14, Pakatan and PAS captured more than half of the 54 federal seats with Felda schemes.

Some of the issues that had rankled voters during the campaign period were 1MDB, cost of living, and Najib’s leadership.

IIUM conducted two surveys in May. The first survey of 1,457 respondents was conducted from April 7 – May 1 while the second survey (620 respondents) was carried out from May 1-8. The findings were shared by Syed Arabi during IIUM’s seminar on GE14 yesterday.

The second survey showed a huge shift of Malay and Chinese voters away from BN.

In the pre-polling day survey, Syed Arabi said BN’s popularity among Malays fell from 46% to 33%. The Chinese support for BN also fell from 27% to 23%, although Indian sentiment remained largely unchanged at 49%, said Syed Arabi.

The 13% drop in Malay support amounted to about one million votes, said the academic.

This was the biggest campaign period fall in Malaysia’s election history.

“Previous elections showed that voter sentiment would only shift one or two percentage points during the campaign period,” he added.

The spring that never came

Historically, BN’s popular vote was like a pendulum that swung both ways, said Syed Arabi.

“It had strong support in 2004 (64.4%) and then dropped in 2008 (51.5%) and 2013 (46.5%) and it hoped that the popular vote would bounce back in GE14.

“Instead, BN’s popular vote fell to 33.2%. BN was hoping for spring in 2018 but the winter just continued,” said Syed Arabi.

Syed Arabi said the first survey, conducted a month before nomination day, had indicated that BN’s popular vote would only drop to 37%.

“But at that point, we thought BN would still win or at worst a hung parliament. We didn’t expect the massive fall during the campaign period.”

Besides the drop in Malay support, another surprising result was BN’s drop in popularity among the lower income groups, said Syed Arabi.

He said the second survey showed that the BN’s support from those earning less than RM2,000 fell from 51% to 40%. And for those earning between RM2,000 and RM4,000, the support fell from 37% to 30%. Support from those earning above RM6,000 also fell 7%.

“BR1M didn’t do much for BN,” said Syed Arabi.

A month before elections, Najib had announced that BR1M would be raised from RM1,200 to RM2,000 during the launch of the BN manifesto on April 7.

Another interesting finding from the survey was the support among the higher income group for PAS. The second survey showed support for PAS from those earning more than RM6,000 jumped from 5% to 16%.

Syed Arabi said it showed that PAS was not only popular among the lower income groups and its voter profile has changed. – June 29, 2018.

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From → Malaysia Upclose

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