COMMENT | This is the best time to be alive.
The caretaker prime minister has said it a couple of times: The 14th general election (GE14) will be the mother of all elections.
But what makes an election historic? It must have an earth-shattering consequence, it must carry strong symbolism, and it must usher in a larger meaning for its people.
These three indices make GE14 the mother of all elections.
1. End of the longest-ruling coalition in the democratic world
The most earth-shattering consequence of GE14 is that it could potentially spell the end of the longest-ruling coalition in the democratic world. BN (and its early form, the Alliance Party) and Umno have been in power for 60 years since the independence of Malaya. No opposition has since mounted a successful challenge against the steely clutch of BN.
But the waves are churning. GE14 will be the first election where we have a substantively competitive opposition coalition against BN. Opposition coalitions in the past of Gagasan Rakyat, Barisan Alternatif, and Pakatan Rakyat were merely ad-hoc electoral halfway-houses designed to ensure convenient straight fights with BN. They were not ideologically aligned, nor were they organised in the same formation.
Harapan today has a comprehensive manifesto in “Buku Harapan”, a prime-minister designate in Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a common logo in PKR’s eye, and an equitable power-sharing model in a leadership structure. If they had their way, Harapan would even have had their coalition and logo registered.
GE14 will be the first election where the opposition has the highest chance of winning. 2008 unleashed an urban swing towards the opposition, and 2013 greeted us with an unprecedented popular vote victory for the opposition. Think-tank Invoke’s data points show that the Malay votes in favour of Umno had declined drastically to only 28.5 percent as of February. All these points towards an unprecedented proximity the opposition stands to Putrajaya.
Apart from that, GE14 will also witness the stiffest competition between campaigning machinery. BN still has the usual monopoly of the media, finances, and governmental arms to enable effective campaigning. But the opposition is catching up. The establishment of Invoke, in targeting 103 marginal seats across Peninsular Malaysia with close to 25,000 volunteers, has diluted BN’s conventional monopoly. Vibrant online campaigning by the opposition has also given them a voice they would otherwise be deprived of in the mainstream media.
Given the vast inflow of information online provided by political candidates and the extensive coverage by journalists on the ground, voters in GE14 are likely to be the most well-informed in the history of the country.
Therefore, GE14 is the mother of all elections because this is the closest the country has ever been to the earth-shattering outcome of ending the longest-ruling coalition in the democratic world. This is historic by every measure...