Taking a backseat view of the recent Melaka state election, one would conclude that Barisan Nasional (BN), in particular Umno, had made a strong political comeback and Pakatan Harapan, namely PKR, was the biggest loser.
While it is true that PKR was indeed the greatest loser, we cannot label BN as the greatest victors although it may seem so.
For one, we cannot discount the low voter turnout, which was the lowest in history with only a 66% turnout compared to 85% previously.
An estimated 29% of Chinese and Indian voters opted to stay away, while about 34% of others also did not come out to vote.
The best reason for this would of course be fears of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On paper, Umno seemed victorious, winning 18 of the 20 seats it contested, but in fact the party lost an estimated 4% of support among Malay voters.
The only reason Umno won so many seats was because they were handed to them on a silver platter by Pakatan Harapan due to their political shortcomings and Anwar Ibrahim’s dismal leadership.
BN’s coalition partners MCA and MIC also actually lost ground marginally, from about 10% to 8%, and neither achieved any gains in terms of popular votes.
So, on close scrutiny of the state electoral results, the party which gained the most ground was Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu.
Bersatu in fact gained about 6% in vote share to 155 overall, which was not only concentrated on the Malays, but spread across all communities.
Malay support alone for Perikatan Nasional is estimated to have increased by about 17%, achored around Bersatu.
A large portion of this support was reportedly from the younger voters who viewed Bersatu as the best alternative to offer them the opportunities and security they seek.
Bersatu has positioned itself well as a party with a solid political foundation and able to meet the aspirations of younger voters.
Also, political observers have taken their hats off to Bersatu for going the extra mil and naming Mas Ermieyati Samsudin as their chief Mminister candidate.
This endeared the party to women voters and demonstrated the liberal and open spirit practised by the party leadership.
So, in conclusion, to say that Umno is winning over the hearts of voters based on the Melaka polls would be an incorrect conclusion.
Bersatu was in fact the party which gained the most ground and looks poised for a strong electoral victory in the next national polls.
No matter what, Umno is still riddled with accusations of corruption and power abuse and this is not something the voters can sweep under the carpet.
The best alternative is clearly Bersatu, and the voters, especially those coming in soon under Undi18, realise this.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.