LETTER | Can PN take S’gor, N Sembilan in state elections?

LETTER | The Election Commission (EC) has announced state elections for six states after the states reached their maximum term of office. Six states – Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan – did not hold elections simultaneously in the November 2022 general election.

Many political analysts predict the status quo in the three states (Penang, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan), meaning they are expected to remain under the control of Pakatan Harapan-BN while Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu will continue to be governed by a Perikatan Nasional government.

However, the battles in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan will be closely watched as the vote swings in these two states are expected to be more significant.

Harapan-BN’s cooperation with the federal government will be tested in the state elections. It’s no secret that Harapan and BN supporters have reservations about working partners and many are still uncomfortable with this marriage of longtime enemies.

Based on a recent survey by the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (Insap) among voters in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, only 34 percent of respondents said they were happy with Harapan working with BN and 31 percent of respondents said they were not happy with Harapan working with BN.

The ability to transfer votes between Harapan and BN supporters remains a major challenge in both coalitions – that is, getting their core supporters to support other coalition partners.

With this in mind, Insap simulated a possible outcome of the state elections in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan based on the results of the 15th general election.

After considering the possibility of Harapan-BN losing support from their own supporters, it will still be difficult for PN to get a simple majority in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan due to the fact that Harapan still has a very strong core base in these two states.

As for BN, it is still a highly recognized coalition in Negeri Sembilan.

Assuming 70 percent of voters who voted for Harapan in GE15 turn out, PN must swing 50 to 55 percent of BN’s votes to win enough seats to control Selangor with a simple majority.

If Harapan-BN manages to convince more supporters to vote, say 80 percent turnout, PN will need to convert up to 60 to 65 percent of BN’s GE15 votes to its side to form a government in Selangor.

Upward work

Converting more than half of BN voters to PN supporters may seem like a daunting task on paper, but nothing seems impossible, especially with the growing frustration among Malaysians towards the state of the economy, and the lack of a national economic recovery plan.

Also, in Negeri Sembilan, the PN has a difficult task to convince 50 to 55 percent of BN voters to switch support to secure a simple majority of state seats, if Harapan brings 80 percent of its supporters to vote in the upcoming state polls.

This means that even if Harapan loses 20 percent of its core support and BN half of its voters, it will still not be a walk in the park for PN candidates in Negeri Sembilan.

However, if Harapan-BN fails to get their respective supporters to vote for either coalition, the PN will only need to swing 50 to 55 percent of BN’s votes to secure at least 18 seats out of 36.

Political lethargy is an issue for all political parties, with Malaysians now more concerned with bread and butter issues, and the direction of the economy, or the lack thereof.

After nine months since the national election, Malaysians are showing signs of fatigue with political messages and promises, especially the unmet expectations created by the political parties currently in power.

For the same reason, Harapan-BN’s ability to sell their brand to their respective supporters is the real challenge, bearing in mind that Harapan and BN are fighting hard in the November 2022 general election.

Get-out-the-vote efforts will help make vote transfer easier for Harapan-BN, especially among return voters (those who do not live in their voting location).

Harapan-BN’s management of their grassroots discontent will be crucial to its survival in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, as ground intelligence has shown that the emotions of cooperation between the two groups of sworn enemies are still unsettled, especially among the more conservative Malays.

If they fail to manage this, voters may vote for PN or Muda as a form of protest.


SIA Bik KAI is the director of the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (Insap), an independent think tank.

KAT WONG is Deputy Director of Insap.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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