Independent candidates could be kingmakers in GE15, says think tank

KUALA LUMPUR: The Emir Research think-tank finds that Independent candidates could be kingmakers in the next General Election, as support for the Umno-PAS alliance and Pakatan Harapan appeared "too close to call".

In a survey conducted prior to the Tanjung Piai by-election, 17% of respondents said they would support Independent candidates, while 38% supported Umno-PAS and 41% supported Pakatan.

"Based on the estimated margin of error of plus and minus 3%, the competition (between the two major coalitions) can only be described as neck-and-neck," said Malaysia International Islamic University Economics and Management Sciences Assist Prof Datin Dr Margarita Peredaryenko (pic).

"The significant support for Independent candidates, especially among the younger generation, could signal the emergence of a third force if the Independents who are fed-up with both Pakatan and Muafakat Nasional (Umno-PAS) decide to coalesce into a single movement," she said on Thursday (Dec 12).

She said this when briefing the media on part two of Emir Research's Inaugural Poll to reveal its findings on the Government Satisfaction Index (GSI), voters' intention to vote, and impact of manifesto fulfilment.

The survey concluded that the GSI score was 0.53, indicating an average satisfaction.

She said despite various factors influencing voters' choice, GSI was found to be an important predictor of voters' intention to vote.

"It is found to exhibit direct positive influence on voters' intention to vote," she said.

Although the survey also contained respondents' level of satisfaction on the performance of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Economic Affairs Minister, Education Minister, and other Cabinet Ministers, Emir Research declined to reveal the findings on ethical grounds.

Emir Research chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rais Hussin said it was best to draw the index based on collective performance of the Cabinet.

Emir Research concluded that 64% of the Chinese community were supportive of Pakatan, 53% of the Malay and bumiputra respondents were supportive of Umno and PAS, while 52% of Indians were supportive of Pakatan.

The data also indicate neck-and-neck support for Umno-PAS (42%), Pakatan (40%) from respondents aged 31 and below.

Only the older respondents expressed greater support for Pakatan (49%).

A majority of rural respondents supported Pakatan (58%), while the majority of urban respondents supported Umno-PAS (48%).

When it comes to income, a majority of those earning more than RM5,000 a month supported Pakatan (52%), while 51% of those in the middle income bracket of between RM3,001 and RM5,000 also backed Pakatan.

The majority earning below RM3,000 supported Umno-PAS.

"With the right design and implementation of public policies, particularly concerning the 'stomach' economy, Pakatan can further outdo its rival," the research concluded.

The majority of degree holders supported Pakatan (55%), while 48% of diploma holders also supported Pakatan. The less educated respondents appeared torn between Umno-PAS (42%) and Pakatan (41%).

"In other words, those who feel insecure the most in economic terms tend to prefer Muafakat Nasional (Umno-PAS)," it said.

Implementing the promises and pledges in an election manifesto do have an impact on the level of satisfaction of the rakyat towards the government.

Lead researcher Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Sahari Nordin said they would continue amassing data periodically to gauge the rakyat's perception towards the government's socio-economic plan and actions.

The Emir Research is an independent think-tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based upon rigorous research.

Dr Rais said Emir Research was a non-profit entity that was committed to advancing unbiased high-impact research on national, regional, and international issues.

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