The twin by-elections and political realignment
The outcome of the twin by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar will have huge bearing on the political realignment nationally.
Since the 2013 general election, Malaysian politics experienced several massive political earthquakes, namely,
First, after two years of intense battle, the conservatives and progressives in PAS split in June 2015. Hadi’s conservative wing swung to UMNO and became the latter’s “political advisor” while the progressives formed Amanah.
Second, after intense internal pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak over the 1MDB scandal and donation in his account, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked on 28th July 2015. Subsequently, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad quit UMNO on 29th February 2016 and launched the “Citizen’s Declaration” on 4th March 2016.
Third, while Amanah was formed on 16th September 2015 and Pakatan Harapan on 22nd September 2015, the factions in Parti Keadilan Rakyat have yet to agree on whether to back Amanah as opposed to PAS, and to make Pakatan Harapan the only opposition coalition.
Nomination for the twin by-elections is on 5th June and voting on 18th June. The outcome will help clarify the muddied current situation in the following ways:
a) With UMNO and PAS now effectively in a de facto coalition, will they both gain votes or cannibalise into each other’s base? If the voters abandon PAS, will the outcome hasten the second split of PAS?
b) How strong is Amanah and Pakatan Harapan in the eyes of the voters?
c) How much influence UMNO Team B, in particular Tun Mahathir, wield? Can they deliver disgruntled UMNO votes to the Amanah candidates?
d) If the result clearly shown that Amanah is ahead of PAS in terms of voter’s support, perhaps it will help ensure that factions in PKR finally come to a consensus to back Amanah and support Pakatan Harapan.
e) If UMNO garners less than half of the total votes, the outcome may prompt fresh efforts to dislodge Najib.
In short, the outcomes of the twin by-elections will have huge impact on national political realignment.