Umno’s decline signals political shift, coalition method future of Malaysia

The declining support for Malaysia’s United Malays National Organisation (Umno) has been evident since the 12th general election in 2008, marking a significant shift in the country’s political landscape. According to Syaza Syukri, an assistant professor of political science at International Islamic University Malaysia, the 2008 election signalled the beginning of a “political tsunami” that has continued to impact Umno’s performance.

In the 15th general election last November, Umno experienced its worst-ever performance, with only 31% of the popular vote. This downward trend has led political analysts to believe that major reform is necessary for the party to regain its footing, which may take several election cycles.

The current situation also poses challenges for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, with the Perikatan Nasional (PN) emerging as a potential beneficiary. As Umno supporters are ideologically closer to PN than PH, a shift in support could result in PN becoming the largest political bloc.

However, whether PN can return to power depends on its ability to build a coalition with Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), as no single party is likely to win enough seats to form the federal government on its own.

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR), believes that the coalition method will be the future of Malaysian politics, with no single party able to form a government independently. This will require cooperation between various political parties and coalitions after each general election.

Umno’s declining popularity is also a cause for concern for the PH coalition due to their cooperation. The outcome of the six state elections will provide insight into the effects of this partnership.

Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s department of political science, public administration and development studies, suggests that Umno needs a “magic touch” from its leadership to improve its performance in the upcoming state elections. This could involve changes in party leadership, as well as strategic adjustments in the areas and seats they contest.

Tawfik also recommends that the PH coalition distance itself from Umno in the state elections, focusing on their own campaigns and avoiding potential backlash from their supporters.

Looking ahead to the 16th general election, Tawfik suggests that PH and Umno should work towards forming a large political entity called the “Malaysian Unity Party” that encompasses all components of the unity government. However, this strategy may not be suitable for the six state elections due to the limited timeframe.

In summary, the decline in support for Umno signifies a significant shift in Malaysia’s political landscape, with the coalition method becoming the new norm for forming governments. The outcome of the upcoming state elections will provide further insight into the potential impact of Umno’s decline on the PH coalition and the future of Malaysian politics.

World News

Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

Related Articles