Voter swing highest in ‘semi rural areas’
A political analyst shatters myth that more urban voters switched to the opposition in the recent Sarawak polls.
KUCHING: An associate professor from Singapore has debunked views that the opposition’s recent win in the 10th edition of the Sarawak elections was attributed to greater gains in the urban areas.
According to political analyst Bridget Welsh the opposition’s ‘greatest gains were actually in the semi-rural areas’ such as Batu Kawah, Dudong and Piasau.
“The close fight in Senadin is also illustrative,” said Welsh. She said her findings showed that voter swing in semi-rural areas stood at almost 20% while in rural areas it was registered at 15% and 13% in urban areas.
She also attributed opposition wins to the increased mobilisation of younger voters who had also been a contributory factor.
Last Saturday’s polls saw a 16% increase in turnout compared to older voters which stood at 3.5%. The opposition enjoyed 26% of support from young voters.
Welsh, an associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University, did a comparitive study between the last weekend’s Sarawak polls’ result and those of 2006.
Swing in Malay votes
She said that voter sway was greatest in semi rural mixed constituencies. It saw the greatest rise being among the Malays.
“The average increase from 2006 for the Malays was 9%. The Chinese and Ibans both saw an 8.7% increase, Bidayuh at 7.1%, Orang Ulu 5.6% and mixed at 5.7 %,” said Welsh, adding that the Orang Ulu-majority seats saw a 20% swing.
These numbers can be a bit deceiving as the actual number of voters in Sarawak are small and 20% can reflect a small number of voters in the small constituencies. Nevertheless, the swing is significant.”
With this revelation, Welsh has shattered the myth that the opposition support is urban-centric. In the polls last Saturday, opposition
Pakatan Rakyat coalition won 15 seats, with independent George Lagong, winning one seat in Pelagus.
While the ruling Sarawak Barisan Nasional enjoyed a two-third majority win, the breakdown of the results showed a marked swing in support for the opposition.
About 45% of the less than one million Sarawakian voters voted for the opposition.