The inclusion of younger voters through Undi 18 will likely benefit Perikatan Nasional (PN) at the next general election by levelling the playing field with more established coalitions like Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN), analysts say.
Mohamad Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of think tank Ilham Centre, said the younger generation are not like older voters who follow family or traditional views on politics.
Instead, they prioritise current affairs and will likely lend their support to whoever puts their welfare first, he said.
“This group puts more focus on their rice bowls and their future,” he told MalaysiaNow.
“So whoever appears able to offer them a solution to their problems – this is the party that will win their vote.
“Their inclusion will have an equalising effect that will benefit PN and allow it to compete fairly with PH and BN.”
“Whoever appears able to offer them a solution to their problems – this is the party that will win their vote.”
Bridget Welsh, an analyst from the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute Malaysia, said the effect could be seen during the recent state election in Melaka, at which a number of young voters shifted their support from BN and PH to PN.
“The numbers that shifted were significant,” she said. “It was clear that they wanted change and reforms.
“PN is a new political coalition, so they might have wanted to give it a chance to prove itself.”
Both Welsh and Hisommudin agreed that the youth to be included in the electorate through Undi 18 or the lowering of the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 would be the game-changer at the 15th general election.
They said the presence of these new voters would bring life to the election atmosphere as it would be difficult to predict which way they would swing.
Welsh said this was because the youth had no partisan loyalties and would focus on bread-and-butter issues.
“The youth are tired of politics,” she said. “They are looking for reforms and are focused on their livelihoods. This will have an impact on the general election to come.”
She referred to the 1MDB issue, saying many youth were reacting differently to it now than in 2018.
“This was part of what carried PH to victory,” she added. “But now the situation has changed.”
Hisommudin said whichever group won the support of the youth would be on the brink of victory.
“Young voters make up more than half of the electorate in the entire country, so their vote is crucial,” he said.
He said political parties would need to employ new approaches and could no longer rely on traditional means of campaigning in order to win their vote.
“They cannot just use old campaign materials – they need to explore new trends,” he said.