Election Time - Badawi Running Scared?
So the phoney war is over and the games may begin in earnest-parliament wasn't due to be dissolved till May 2009 and BN holds 90% of the seats, so what's the big rush? It's hard to tell from outside looking in (Australia is just a touch too far away and checking Malaysian political blogs means not doing work...).
It is clear Badawi wants a mandate renewal now-but why exactly now?
*Impending economic slowdown - could it be that the world economy is slowing and Badawi wants to jump the gun before jobs are shed and people blame him? Highly unlikely in my opinion as speculation of an early election has been rife for months now, since the UMNO elections were set aside anyway.
*The Anwar Ibrahim factor - after April Anwar can take part in elections, but while this may have been at the back of Badawi's mind, it can't really be the trigger. PKR is a shadow of its former self, and Anwar is not the man he was (or so it seems to me). A cheap populist who latches onto anything that makes him look good only shows Anwar to be the opportunist that he is-17 years in Mahathir's cabinet and what exactly did he do for democracy? I can see him for the naked emperor that he is, hoepfully others will to. Still, with a lot of unhappy Malays (where's the contracts sir?) about, Anwar's gift of the gab and egolomaniac tendencies (reminds me of Obama...) could swing a lot of votes PKR's way, but anyway near enough? Which brings me to...
*The dissolution of Chinese/Indian Support - By all accounts they have had it-Hishamuddin can raise his keris all he likes from now on end, the damage has been done. Hindraf's crazy antics may leave them looking extereme, and they probably are, but they showed Indian disillusionment with the government to be true and strong. Samy Vellu has no leg to stand on. If they desert BN en masse, and PKR gets some Malay votes, well then a small 2/3rds majority for BN is akin to a defeat and the end of Badawi's tenure.
But Badawi is nothing if not a smart operator-the timing is good if all the above are true as the economy may start dipping, Anwar may still be 'the man', and Chinese/Indian support may start to falter even more-still with BN set to win practically all seats in Sabah, Sarawak and Johor, what hope is there for the opposition really? Only to produce a thousand small cuts to fell the elephant, eventually...A good showing in Malacca, Perak and Penang for DAP, coupled with a sizeable vote (but probably no seats) for the PKR might just do the trick-PAS seems finished from where I am standing. But will the DAP and PKR stop fighting amongst themselves? can't see it-they are as inherently undemocratic as the BN. The opposition is useless, and the people know it-BN gets the vote half the time because they are in power and somehow things continue chugging along-the mental asylum on the outside looking in just don't seem credible enough. Stability, at the end of the day may well be preferable to the masses compared to a strong protest vote which leads to uncertainty and bloodletting within BN, if not even on the streets if doomsayers are right.
Nonetheless, don't kid yourself that this an election about change in the country as we know it-it is an election about change all right, but about changing or keeping Badawi. Not about changing teh government, but government policies. It'll be a comfortable win by Western terminology, but a loss of 20 seats will spell the end of Badawi as UMNO's president-watch the knives (or keris with Hishamuddin) come out...Najib must be licking his lips...