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COMMENT | Preliminary observations of S’wak polls: Election retrospective Part 2

COMMENT | (Now) Premier Abang Abdul Rahman Johari Abang Openg’s victory in the Sarawak polls last December was decisive. The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition he led secured 76 of the 82 seats, a whopping 93% of total seats.

Analysis of the polls brought attention to the rise of state nationalism, his administration’s efforts to promote greater Sarawak autonomy and control of its revenue and the high spending around the campaign.

Others drew attention to the weakness and transformation of the opposition; Pakatan Harapan’s performance was abysmal, with DAP only winning two seats and PKR losing its deposit in many of their contests. A new local-based opposition party Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) with its four seats emerged as the state's main opposition party, reflecting the trend of the emergence of new players in national politics.

Sarawak has its own unique politics arising out of its unique multi-ethnic society, challenges of development and the salience of the federal-state relationship. There is a tendency to treat dynamics in Sarawak as separate, not relevant for national trends. A preliminary analysis of voting behaviour in Sarawak (drawing from macro results and a sample of polling station data) suggests that while there are unique dimensions, many of the trends in Sarawak echo broader transformations taking place in national politics.

The most striking of these is a drop in turnout... 

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