Thursday, 9 May 2013

The dust settles on BN’s victory

Facebook profile pictures have gone black in protest of the prevailing status quo, following Barisan Nasional’s weakest electoral performance in history. The results have yielded a tremendous mood of disappointment communicated over social media, which represent the urban middle-class constituencies that came out in full force for Pakatan Rakyat. This election proves that the two coalition system is now firmly entrenched and that the opposition’s core principles of fighting corruption and creating more equitable wealth distribution resonate deeply with the electorate; the message has never been clearer to those in Putrajaya. DAP delivered its strongest performance at the polls to date, retaining Penang while the opposition coalition made significant inroads in Sabah, Sarawak, and Johor. The results are reflective of real demographics, and for the most part, these were reasonably fair elections that passed with no major incident. Barisan retained Putrajaya thanks to support from the rural electorate who felt like the development projects and populist policies on offer were the safest bet.

Emotional refutations of the poll results have gone viral, along with slogans such as “R.I.P. Democracy”. The reality is that Pakatan is now in a position where it can more effectively keep BN on its toes; it has convincingly denied the BN its customary two-thirds majority and major opposition figures have retained their seats with solid majorities. BN’s Ali Rustam fell in Malacca whilst Abdul Ghani Othman lost decisively in Johor; candidates like Raja Zainal Abidin, Saifuddin Abdullah, Kong Cho Ha, and Raja Nong Chik were also defeated. Although the Barisan retained the Federal government, the doom and gloom seen on social media is not warranted as the opposition asserted itself compellingly. Some would argue Najib’s weak mandate might prove problematic for him in internal party elections, but it’s clear that the rural vote was garnered heavily by the PM’s personal appeal. Najib is an asset to the Barisan, but his failure to acquire support from the Chinese community will have long-term implications.

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Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at