In my first Malaysian 13th General Elections Preview, I broke down vote returns by party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. Another revealing exercise is to break down by district which kinds of parties contested the election, to see which kinds of BN parties contest with which kinds of opposition parties. Here are the results, focusing only on head-to-head contests in the peninsula.
Head to Head Contests, GE12, Peninsular Malaysia Only
It is important to recall that prior to GE12, there was no formal opposition coalition. That was created only after GE12, in the form of the Pakatan Rakyat, or People’s Pact.
Nevertheless, we see here a clear segregation of opposition parties by ethnicity. The Democratic Action Party (DAP, a social democratic party) almost always competed against the MCA or Gerakan—the former is a Chinese party, and the latter is multiethnic but has a largerly Chinese following. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS, an Islamist party) almost always competed against UMNO, which is a Malay party, and Malays are by law Muslims. The People’s Justice Party (PKR, a party whose predecessor was founded by Anwar Ibrahim) was the only party that doesn’t fit this pattern, competing against both UMNO and MCA.
We can also examine the outcomes of these contests.
BN Victories, GE12, Peninsular Malaysia Only
Lots to conclude from this, but some things to highlight. (1) MCA and Gerakan did really poorly against the DAP and PKR, but not against PAS, although there are only a couple such elections because of the ethnic segregation mentioned above. (2) UMNO won the majority of contests against PAS and PKR. If you break that finding down further, you will learn that this masks some big differences across the states: UMNO did extremely well in Johor (its historic base), really poorly in the Northeast (the historic base of PAS). I have written more on that here (ungated version here).
In the next preview post, I will discuss why I am confining all of these analyses to Peninsular Malaysia.