It is not outside the realm of possibility for Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) to team up to face Barisan Nasional (BN) ahead of the 15th general election, analysts say after consecutive defeats suffered by both coalitions at the recent state elections in Melaka and Johor.
Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said BN, which won 40 out of 56 state seats in Johor, would have lost the election if the votes of PN and PH were combined.
He believes that BN would only have won 21 seats in its traditional stronghold which were a given for the coalition and would not have fallen even if PN’s votes were combined with those of PH and Muda to boot.
If PN and PH had joined forces in Johor, he said, BN would have lost the other 19 seats.
“It is possible for PN and PH to work together,” he told MalaysiaNow.
At the Johor election on March 12, BN only succeeded in winning 599,753 votes – 43.11% of the total 1,426,573.
This means that 826,820 or 56.89% of voters did not support BN while 1.17 million others were a no-show at the polling booth.
PN won three seats with a total of 334,457 votes (24.04%) while PH won 11 seats with 284,969 votes (20.48%).
If the two blocs had worked together, they would have received 45.52% of the votes, more than was won by BN.
Nevertheless, Kamarul said the figures could not be used to play down BN’s victory as the coalition had won through a legitimate election.
“Under the first-past-the-post system, political parties do not need an absolute victory in order to emerge the winner,” he said.
“It is enough that they have surpassed the votes of other parties.”
If PH was dissatisfied with its loss, he added, it had only itself to blame for not changing the system during its time in power.
Azizuddin Sani, Kamarul’s colleague at UUM, said the results of the Johor election demonstrated the need for PN to form a new coalition.
“But how it goes about this would not be set in stone,” he said.
“It would be up to the leaders, for example, whether it would be best to join forces with Pejuang, or if it could consider PH or Warisan – it all depends.”
Alternatively, he said, PN could even choose to work with BN.
“It’s up to them to decide which party would bring the most benefit to PN.”
When asked if PAS, which is presently a component of PN, should consider rejoining BN under the Muafakat Nasional pact, Azizuddin said there were several factors which would complicate such a scenario.
For example, he said, while the Islamist party had always wanted to link up with BN, the presence of Bersatu in PN would make this difficult.
“That is the dilemma,” he said. “At the moment, PAS has decided to be with PN because it feels that this is the best choice for the party.”
Azizuddin added that it would be hard for PAS to leave PN and return to BN as this would make things difficult for Bersatu.
In other words, he said, PN would split, and be left with only two components: Bersatu and Gerakan.
“I do not think that PAS will leave PN,” he said. “It’s just that there might be some who feel that cooperation with BN would be better than staying with PN.”
Going by the results of the Melaka and Johor elections, he said, BN would appear to be more prominent.
“But this is not to say that PN is powerless,” he added. “Take Johor for example – it received a lot of support there and managed to split the Malay vote.
“It just wasn’t enough for them to win, and in the end they only got three seats.”
PN and PH leaders also have a long history which would make working together difficult even though the narrative of their struggles follows many of the same lines – especially in terms of dealing with the court cluster from Umno and BN.
PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin and Pejuang chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad have been at odds since the so-called Sheraton Move which saw the latter sacked from Bersatu.
Mahathir went on to form Pejuang, which contested an election for the first time in Johor last Saturday.
Bersatu meanwhile saw the entrance of former PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.
The move is said to have contributed to the collapse of the PH government following an internal crisis between him and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim during the party elections.
Nonetheless, Azizuddin said, at the heart of the issue was the question of what compromise PN could offer BN, PH and any other party.
“Everyone has their own interest and request,” he said. “If these cannot be met, there will be no cooperation.
“Umno might state the dissolution of Bersatu as a condition for joining forces. Umno itself feels that it is on solid ground as it has won elections in two states now.
“These requests would benefit BN far more than PN,” he added. “This is the dilemma that they need to think through in order to reach a conclusion that is the best for them.”