Politweet: At best, PH may have shaky hold on Putrajaya in GE14

By Azril Annuar
File picture showing pakatan Harapan leaders waving their party flags during the Pakatan Harapan convention in Shah Alam January 7, 2018. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) can only form a stable federal government — even under the best conditions — if it can win more seats in east Malaysia, according to a Politweet simulation.

The simulation by the social media research firm used the Opposition’s performance during the 2013 general elections as its base year and gave the Opposition a five-point increase (an additional five per cent chance of a person voting for them), which saw them forming a government with 115 to 117 out of the 222 parliamentary seats.

“In a straight fight against BN (Barisan Nasional), PH can form the federal government with a five-point swing of support leading to a win of 115 seats. However a slim margin of three seats (112 seats is the minimum required) would not be enough for a stable government.

“A stronger swing of support and victories in East Malaysia would still be important for PH. Due to the high-risk seats, PH would need to target an additional 10 or more seats in East Malaysia.

“Given the performance of the Opposition in the Sarawak state elections in 2016 and the current state of the Opposition in Sabah, we can expect PH to face difficulty in winning 10 seats,” the simulation predicted.

The social media research firm specialising in politics ran two more scenarios with the first granting PH the same odds as the 13th General Election (GE13) contested by the then-Pakatan Rakyat comprising PKR, DAP and PAS, which saw them winning 76 to 83 seats. The second scenario gave them a two-points increase and saw them taking 89 to 99 seats.

However, it pointed out that three-corner fights between PH, PAS and BN would benefit the ruling party. PAS has been replaced with Parti Amanah Negara in the new Opposition coalition, PH.

“The only way for PH to overcome this is for their parties (particularly PPBM) to win over pro-BN supporters. For example in a seat contested by PAS, PPBM and BN, if 10 per cent of the anti-BN vote went to PAS, PPBM would need to counter that by getting >10 per cent of the pro-BN vote.

“If PH is able to do this in three-corner fights then the results of Scenario 3 (a 5-point swing to PH) can be achieved. This will lead to record victories for PH in Kedah and Johor, as well as control of the federal government,” it said.

The firm ran 300 simulations for each parliamentary seat in all three scenarios using the 2016 third quarter electoral roll and made its calculations based on the average.

The conditions of the simulations included straight fights between BN and the Opposition, with PAS being a member of the opposition; no redelineation; voter sentiment and average turnout remaining the same as GE13.

Other conditions were the best and worst-case scenarios for the ruling government and the Opposition, and parties are considered to have won a seat based on the number of times it won the seat in the simulations.

A separate simulation based on possible constituency redelineation also saw the odds favouring BN. The simulation predicted strong possibilities for BN to take over Amanah seats in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu; Bukit Gantang and Lumut, Perak; as well as  Hulu Langat and Sepang, Selangor.

Under the simulation it also saw PKR losing its seats in Kapar, Selangor; Lembah Pantai; Telok Kemang, Negri Sembilan; Bukit Katil, Melaka and; Batu Pahat, Johor.

Another aspect that is a threat to PH’s success is the waning support it is facing from youths and the rapidly declining interest in political issues on social media.

Its “Potential Voter Interest in Political Parties on Facebook, Malaysia, April 2014 — Dec 2017” graph showed a 30 percentage point decline to 29.5 per cent in December 2017 from 59.38 per cent in November 2016.

The graph is calculated based on a users’ profile information, Page likes, posts, shares and other activity on Facebook.

“From our observations on Twitter using our database of profiled users in Malaysia, support expressed for Opposition parties has been weak. This would indicate that support from the youth will be a problem in GE14,” Politweet reported.