Malaysia’s last election

Edmund Terence Gomez of the Department Of Administrative Studies and Politics at the University of Malaya is one of Malaysia’s best-known political economists. His new article at te JCA publisher’s website is “Resisting the Fall: The Single Dominant Party, Policies and Elections in Malaysia” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1192214).Gomez

With Prime Minister Najib Razak in trouble over massive corruption allegations and his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is some disarray, Gomez’s article is essential for an understanding of how this crisis came about.

The abstract for his paper states:

Before Malaysia’s 2013 general election, one of the few remaining dominant coalitions in the world was aware it would struggle to retain power. A fledgling opposition coalition had inspired public confidence of its capacity to competently rule while public discontent with the ruling party was rife due to the ubiquity of patronage that had prevented the responsible implementation of policies. However, regime change did not occur. How does the protracted rule of Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional coalition, and the hegemonic party in it, the United Malays National Organisation, relate to debates over authoritarian durability, during a period when dominant parties struggle to sustain power? Malaysian elections have been free enough that the opposition has been able to obtain and retain control of state governments, so why has Barisan Nasional not lost power? This article reviews the 2013 election examining three issues: the significance of coalition politics; how policies have shaped voting trends; and the growing monetisation of politics. These perspectives provide insights into the institutional structure of coalitions and their conduct of politics, including clientelistic practices, forms of mobilisation and governance and the outcomes of policies introduced to address socio-economic inequities and drive economic growth.

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