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Analysts see return of Malay-based coalition govt post-GE15

They say any hope of Umno regaining a two-thirds majority would be a distant dream.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
A motorcyclist rides past an array of party flags put up near Kampung Melayu Majidee ahead of the Johor state election on March 12.
A motorcyclist rides past an array of party flags put up near Kampung Melayu Majidee ahead of the Johor state election on March 12.

Barisan Nasional (BN) may not succeed in securing a two-thirds victory at the 15th general election (GE15) even though its lynchpin party Umno is considered capable of winning the most parliamentary seats come election day, analysts say. 

Those who spoke to MalaysiaNow said although Umno had succeeded in its push for the dissolution of Parliament, any goal of winning with such a margin of victory might be a distant dream. 

They added that Malaysia might again witness the formation of a coalition government, similar to that established between BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) after the collapse of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in 2020. 

Analyst Oh Ei Sun said if this should occur, the coalition government would likely be Malay-Muslim. 

Oh of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said this projection was based on the expectation of continued cooperation between BN and PN if the coalition led by Muhyiddin Yassin wins "enough" seats at GE15. 

Nevertheless, he said it was also possible that Umno or BN would form a new pact with other groups, even parties from PH. 

"If the situation is desperate, I think Umno would be willing to work with anyone who has enough parliamentary seats to form a new coalition," he said. 

BN, established in 1973 to replace Parti Perikatan, was first denied a two-thirds victory at GE12 in 2008.

At that election, it won only 140 parliamentary seats while the opposition coalition at the time, Pakatan Rakyat, won 82. 

At GE13 in 2013, BN's seats declined again to 133 before its eventual defeat at GE14 in 2018.

Political analyst Ahmad Atory Hussain said there was nothing to show that Umno or BN might see a return of their glory days.

Atory, of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said multiple cracks had appeared, especially after BN's election defeat in 2018. 

He said these splits had in fact given rise to the birth of new parties such as Bersatu, Warisan and Pejuang, and reduced public support for Umno. 

"I do not see BN winning by two-thirds," he said. "Who knows if Umno has any magic up its sleeve." 

On the formation of a coalition government, Atory said this was in fact a trend in European countries which could also take hold in Malaysia after GE15. 

If the people wanted a government with one dominant party, he said, one of the coalitions whether BN, PH or PN would have to win by two-thirds. 

Nevertheless, he questioned the extent to which any of these pacts would be able to do so. 

"Can any of these three coalitions win a two-thirds majority in today's political chaos and confusion?" he said. 

James Chin of the University of Tasmania meanwhile said that a coalition government would benefit the country, allowing more voices from different parties. 

He said the concept of coalition governments had existed in Malaysia since the BN era, just that Umno had been seen as too strong compared to the other component parties. 

"We want as many voices as possible from different parties," he said. 

"In Malaysia, the issue is not due to coalition governments but how power is distributed."