GE14 | On the eve of the campaigning period, pollster Merdeka Center has predicted that BN will win Kelantan in the 14th general election (GE14).
Programme director Ibrahim Suffian anticipated that BN could break PAS’ 28-year hold on the state as recent surveys showed that 55 percent of Kelantan voters support BN as compared to 35 percent for PAS, and 10 percent for Harapan.
Furthermore, Malay support for BN in the Malay-majority East Coast state was estimated to have risen to 54 percent, almost a 10 percent jump since 2013.
“There is a high likelihood that PAS will lose Kelantan. While they are not going to lose all 45 state seats, we think they will still hold to 15 to 20 seats, but the problem that they face is they have a large number of marginal seats.
“Their (PAS’) situation in Kelantan is going to be affected by the absence of charismatic leadership (like late PAS president Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat) which previously managed to...bring people back to vote and mitigate the lack of services with personality power.
“The party itself has also split to Amanah, some voters will go that way.
“And the way PAS has been perceived by some voters as being too close to Umno and not attacking Umno, this has allowed the party to lose its differentiation,” he told the 'Malaysia GE14 Outlook: Perspectives and Outcomes' forum at the University of Nottingham in Kuala Lumpur last night.
Harapan needs a conservative figurehead
Ibrahim attributed Harapan’s inability to capture on the breakaway from PAS, as well as votes from other Malay religious conservatives, to the coalition’s failure to effectively connect with them.
“While Harapan talks about economics and governance, an important element now is Islam and the role of spirituality in the Malay community. This has not been effectively addressed.
“The main factor that is affecting them is there is a lack of that essential Muslim conservative credentials, that at the end of the day, speaks to the core psychology of the Muslim voters.
“[...] Harapan needs to find a spokesperson that can connect them to the more conservative religious community...They need speakers who can connect with this crowd, who can carry the issues (they fight for) but to articulate them in ways that are attractive and comprehensible (to this demographic),” he elaborated.
Meanwhile, Amanah, an Islamist party that broke away from PAS and is now with Harapan, was not established enough to engender a significant swing of the conservative vote, he said.
“I think Amanah is a new party and we don’t think there is enough (traction) to create a tsunami,” Ibrahim analysed.
PAS supporters might vote for Harapan
Political analyst Wong Chin Huat, however, had a different analysis.
He anticipated that a large chunk of PAS’ “anti-establishment” base might just shift to Amanah.
“PAS had in the past had splinter parties but PAS crushed them...as these splinter parties happened to be Umno puppets. PAS was able to capture the religious vote and the anti-establishment Malay votes.
“The tricky part about Amanah is Amanah now is the anti-Umno party while PAS has become the Umno-friendly party.
“This really puts to test what really is PAS’ ground? Is it the religious or anti-establishment vote? If its anti-establishment vote, then PAS is in deep trouble,” he told the same forum.