PETALING JAYA: The outcome of the 15th General Election (GE15) may well be in the hands of nearly 4.5 million voters who have yet to decide their choice of political party to lead the next government.
With votes clearly split between Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional, this bloc of undecided voters will be the target of contenders.
According to a study by research firm Ilham Centre, this group of voters, which comprises a fifth of the electorate, have still not decided which party to vote for.
“The competition is still wide open between the parties to explore and attract their support.
“Votes from this group have the potential to influence the outcome of GE15,” Ilham Center said in its study.
Titled “Memahami Selera Rakyat” (Understanding the People’s Choice), it also said that there are 36% or more than 7.6 million voters who have no allegiance or obsession to any political party.
“This group has the potential to be attracted during campaigns and they can influence the outcome,” the research firm said.
The study is part of a mega survey known as “Suara Rakyat Malaysia Menuju PRU15” (Malaysian Voices: On the Road to GE15), conducted by Ilham Center along with two other research companies – Huayan Policy Institute and O2 Research Malaysia.
It was backed by five major media outlets, which formed an alliance under the name Media in Arms earlier this year to pool their resources to provide readers with diverse and in-depth content.
These are Sinar Harian, The Star, Sin Chew Daily, Astro Awani and Malaysia Nanban.
A total of 21,173,638 people are eligible to vote in GE15, the Electoral Commission (EC) said.
According to Ilham Centre, 21% of its respondents do not know who to vote for while 35% said they would support Barisan, followed by 18% for Pakatan, 12% for Perikatan and 14% other parties.
He also said voters aged 18-29 are still open to which party to support, while Barisan remains the top coalition choice for Malays and Indians.
“GE15 will be the benchmark on the extent to which parties will be able to understand the wishes of voters by presenting new faces as candidates,” Ilham Center said.
Similar results were found in the O2 Research Malaysia study “Apa Yang Rakyat Mahu?” (What do the people want?).
A total of 57% of its respondents said they had decided which party to vote for while 28% said they leaned towards a particular party but were still open to changing their decision and voting for another party.
The remaining 15% of its respondents are undecided.
“Around two-fifths of voters (8.4 million) have still not finalized their party choice for GE15 and the ballots will affect the outcome of the election,” the two research firms said.
Meanwhile, a majority of respondents to the Ilham Center survey believe a general election should not be held until the government completes its mandate on July 16 next year.
However, 83% of its respondents said they would vote in GE15, while 3% said they would abstain.
The remaining 14% say they are still undecided.
“A majority of voters want the GE15 after the end of the government’s mandate.
“But, due to the dissolution of parliament at an earlier date, coalitions need to step up their campaigns to encourage Malaysians to turn out and vote.
“The EC and its related agencies must take action to increase voter turnout,” Ilham Center said.
GE14 in 2018 saw the highest turnout with 12.3 million Malaysians turning up to vote, compared to GE13 with 11.3 million Malaysians voting.
However, analysts noted that turnout at the GE15 could be lower, due to political fatigue and disinterest.
Low voter turnout was also seen in last year’s Melaka state elections with 65.85% of eligible voters turning up to vote followed by 54.92% in state elections. of Johor in March this year.
A total of 5,081 Malaysians were interviewed via online and face-to-face interviews in the three mega-survey studies. Field research by Ilham Center was conducted over a two-month period involving 1,622 respondents from all racial segments, gender, age, education, socio-economic backgrounds, income levels and localities across the country, including Sabah and Sarawak.
O2 Research Malaysia’s online survey involved 1,105 respondents.
See part three of the What Rakyat Want Tomorrow series which looks at the prime minister of choice for GE15 voters.