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Johor polls a litmus test for youth support in GE15, say analysts

The Johor state election will see the participation of voters as young as 18 for the first time.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Voters queue to cast their ballots during the recent Melaka election which saw Barisan Nasional winning 21 out of 28 seats.
Voters queue to cast their ballots during the recent Melaka election which saw Barisan Nasional winning 21 out of 28 seats.

The Johor state polls next month which will see the inaugural participation of voters as young as 18 will likely indicate the voting pattern of the youth at the general election to come, analysts say.

They said the implementation of Undi 18 in Johor would help political parties map out a strategy to attract support from the youth at the next election.

Political analyst James Chin said the data from the Johor election would be crucial to determining overall voting patterns to predict the outcome of GE15.

Chin, who is attached to the University of Tasmania in Australia, said the results in Johor would also reflect the momentum of political parties heading into the general election.

“The most important thing in the Johor polls is that we will see the participation of a number of new parties like Muda, Pejuang and possibly Warisan,” he said.

“This will be the best arena to test the extent of their achievements and influence.”

The Johor state election on March 12 will see candidates jostling to fill the 56 seats in the legislative assembly.

There are nearly 2.59 million registered voters in Johor comprising 2.57 million ordinary voters, 10,955 military voters and their spouses, 11,576 police personnel and their spouses, and 376 overseas voters.

When asked if younger voters could be expected to rally around Muda, Ahmad Atory Hussain, an analyst from Universiti Sains Malaysia, said this would not necessarily be the case.

He said it was difficult to predict where their support would lie as the majority of them have no fixed loyalties

“And Muda doesn’t have an election track record, so it’s possible that voters will hesitate to choose its candidates,” he said.

Atory said the manifestos presented by each party would therefore play an important role in attracting the attention of the youth.

If the Johor election is a replay of the recent election in Melaka, he added, Barisan Nasional (BN) would likely have the upper hand.

The Melaka election in November last year saw a voter turnout of 65.85% or 326,068 out of 495,195 voters – below the EC’s goal of 70%.

This saw BN winning 21 out of 28 seats in the state assembly.

Voter turnout at the 14th general election in 2018 meanwhile was 80%.

Atory said if voter turnout in Johor is low, it would benefit BN which has strong grassroots support in the state.

“Outstation voters or those in Singapore are unlikely to return to vote,” he said. “Of course, BN will seize this opportunity.”

Mujibu Abd Muis of Universiti Teknologi Mara said if BN wins the Johor election, it will put pressure on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to hold the next general election as quickly as possible.

“This state election is like a warm-up for GE15,” he said. “With each state BN captures, its political position in the country grows stronger.

“Victory in Johor will not only boost the strength of BN’s election machinery, it will also contribute to a psychological victory and show that BN is still strong in the public eye.”

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