PKR has won the by-election with a reduced majority of 5,872 votes on the back of a low turnout of 49.4%, but its share of the votes actually rose from 55.6% to 61.4%.
Votes (% share of votes) – Parties
15,427 (61.4%) – Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni (PKR)
9,585 (38.2%) – Lokman Adam (BN)
97 (0.4%) – K Murthy (independent)
25,109 (100%) – Total valid votes cast
9 May 2018 general election
23,998 (55.6%) – PKR
11,518 (26.7%) – BN
7,573 (17.5%) – Pas
76 (0.2%) – PRM
43,165 (100%) – Total valid votes cast
Although PKR’s winning majority was lower than its winning majority of 12,480 in the general election, the party’s share of the valid votes cast rose from 55.6% at the general election to 61.4% this time around. This was despite Pas not putting up a candidate in the by-election so as not to split the opposition vote. Perhaps close to a third of the Pas support has gone to PKR this time.
Another way of analysing this is by looking at which party suffered more from the lower turnout.
The turnout dropped from 43,165 valid votes cast to 25,109 ie a drop of 42%.
PKR’s share of votes dropped from 23,998 to 15,427 ie a drop of 36%, less than the 42% fall in votes cast.
But Umno/BN-Pas’ share of the votes dropped from [11,518 + 7,573] to 9,585 ie a drop of 50%, much larger than the 42% fall in votes cast.
What this means is that Umno and Pas’ race-and-religion rhetoric since the general election has actually eroded support for the two parties in a large Malay-majority seat. For Umno, the race-and-religion rhetoric simply doesn’t cut it anymore, and the sooner it realises this, the better. In fact, Umno-Pas cooperation could in the long-run help Pas more than it helps Umno.
The higher share of votes for PKR also means that voters have rejected Najib’s kleptocracy (Najib campaigned during the by-election) once again while consigning Lokman Adam to obscurity.
Still, Pakatan Harapan should reflect on why excitement for the by-election had waned. Could it be just election fatigue and lack of enthusiasm among out-of-town voters? Or is it something deeper: the failure to hasten the process of some of the reforms pledged in the PH manifesto eg the pledge to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission or other reforms such as the reintroduction of local government elections?