by MAYBANK IBG RESEARCH / graphic MZUKRI
AT THE time of writing, the 15th General Election (GE15) is expected to be a fight of three main political blocks ie, Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim-led Pakatan Harapan (PH). The fractious ruling coalition and fragmented Oppositions point to multi-corner contests at the constituencies up for grabs in GE15, unlike the head-on fights between BN and PH in GE14. This makes the outcome of GE15 harder to predict, although Umno-led BN tends to be seen as a “beneficiary” of multi-cornered contests vs straight one-on-one fights.
Nonetheless, we outline several plausible, and generic, outcomes of GE15 at the parliamentary level (scenarios numbering are not indication of “ranking” of outcomes in terms of likelihood; no probability assigned nor implied):
Scenario 1: Umno-led BN wins the most numbers of the 222 Parliament seats, but well short of a simple majority of 112, necessitating it to team up with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and PAS — and possibly Bersatu-led PN (if it is able to win some Parliament seats in GE15) — to form a simple majority government. While not enough to pass all laws, as some requiring two-thirds support of the Lower House of the Parliament — namely those related to the Federal Constitution amendments — this is sufficient to pass the confidence and supply bills, especially federal government budgets.
While there could be a jostling for senior/key ministerial posts — and even the restoration of deputy prime minister (PM) post that has been absent during Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s terms as PM — in the subsequent weeks after GE15, there should be some semblance of continuity and stability, especially with the Anti-Party Hopping Law in force (since Oct 5, 2022). The risk to such an outcome is political party/ parties in the alliance pulling out en-bloc.
Scenario 2: Umno-led BN plus Sarawak’s GPS secure better than simple majority — mainly at the expense of PAS and Bersatu and potentially winning some PH seats under PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (and DAP, in the case of Sarawak Parliament seats) — though could still be short of two-thirds majority win of 148 parliamentary seats. This outcome would mean a strong and stable government, and hopefully with it comes the political will to undertake broader and bolder reforms. But the risk is inertia, even back-pedalling, due to the “comfort zone” of the strong and stable government compared to the past two to three years.
Under this scenario, the jostling for senior/key ministerial posts (and even deputy PM post) could be relatively less likely (vs Scenario 1), we think, with the ministerial positions and Cabinet composition to reflect that of the respective alliance/party’s shares of seats in the Lower House of Parliament. Under this scenario too, we believe there could be more development allocation from the federal government to Sabah and Sarawak, as well as further progress in granting “autonomy” for the two states.
Scenario 3: Anwar-led PH on its own—or in some form of a bigger Opposition alliance — wins a simple or potentially “strong, formidable, convincing” majority. Under this scenario, Anwar will finally be PM and expectations will be very high for total reforms, potentially including race-and- religion-based politics and policies. Under this scenario, a key thing to watch is whether PH will discard or tone down some of its policies in its GE14 election manifesto which had negatively affected investors’ confidence when it came into power eg, cancellation/review of major infra projects; “breaking up” and/or exerting more influence/ control over public-listed monopolies (including abolishing highway tolls).
Scenario 4: “Uncharted waters” with a totally new — rather than the tried and tested — coalition government. As the sayings go and cliché as they sound, “politics is the art of the possible” and “there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics”. We should not rule out the potential scenario of the previously, even currently, “unthinkable” alliance between the likes of Umno, DAP and PKR, for example. Another possibility is a “minority” government due to a “hung” Parliament outcome or a stalemate among parties in forming a coalition government with a simple majority. No guessing on policy changes and impacts of such a scenario. It will be a period of uncertainty but discovery for everyone including the economy and the market.
The views expressed are of the research team and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.
- This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition