Winners and losers in Johor polls

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With an appalling voter turnout, Barisan Nasional (BN) swept the Johor elections easily by winning 40 out of 56 seats in the state assembly.

With the lowest ever turnout for a state election, it is hard to say whether Johor’s voters have truly spoken, or if they were simply too politically fatigued to bother.

Such sentiments have handed the state that Pakatan Harapan (PH) won in 2018 to BN on a silver platter, making the Umno-led coalition a clear winner in the elections it called.

We take a look at the winners and losers of the 2022 Johor polls.

WINNERS

Barisan Nasional/Umno

BN has again shown what it can do when the turnout is low and the opposition is not united.

Bernama

BN critics will argue that the winners’ share of the popular vote does not reflect the 2.59 million people eligible to cast their ballot, but it does not matter in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

BN won when it mattered most and it will govern Johor for the next five years.

With the 40 seats, BN now has a supermajority and it can once again ignore the opposition completely. Be that as it may, the Johor win will give BN greater confidence to push for an early general election.

Influential Umno leaders have already been pushing Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for an early general election, and last night’s results will only make these calls grow louder and harder to ignore.

Team Zahid-Najib

Day after day, night after night, Umno’s current and former presidents Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak had to endure allegations that they were corrupt and were merely using the Johor polls to push their personal agendas.

Nazir Sufari/TMI

However, they kept their nerve and continued to promote the BN message of political stability and it worked.

While this message did not convince enough urban voters, it was sufficient for the rural faithful and BN swept all 19 out of the 20 out-of-town seats. BN also recaptured the 21 seats it lost to PH and PN in 2018.

Following this success, the pair can march into the Umno general assembly at the World Trade Centre this weekend with their pride intact and their heads held high, despite their legal problems.

Muda

The youth party managed to pick up a seat in its first election, with its secretary-general Amira Aisya Abd Aziz winning in Puteri Wangsa.

While it didn’t see the same success in the six other constituencies it vied for, it’s still undoubtedly an important touchstone for a party that many doubted, given that its charismatic founder, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is Muar MP, was not contesting for a state seat.

The win gives the party a much sought-after legitimacy, and suggests one of the country’s newest parties may be here to stay.

LOSERS

Loser: Pakatan Harapan

After Melaka, Johor represents the second state that PH failed to retain after having won it in 2018.

It’s been a long few months for the coalition, which was marred by rumbles of disunity within its ranks. PKR’s decision to ditch the PH logo in Johor and use its own raised eyebrows, with even coalition partners DAP and Amanah both taking veiled jabs at their coalition ally.

PH faces an uphill battle if it is to return to being the political force it was in 2018. A general election could not come at a worse time, and its opponents are likely to know it and will seek to capitalise on the coalition’s weaknesses.

PKR

Using the PH logo in Malacca, PKR finished zero for 11. Unhappy, PKR turned back to using its own logo in Sarawak and ended with zero for 28.

It again used its own logo in Johor to win one out of 20 battles.

After concluding three state polls with just one win out of 59 battles, is it really just a logo issue or are there leadership problems in Anwar Ibrahim’s party?

This is something PKR grassroot members need to seriously consider ahead of party elections this year.

One of the bigger surprises of the night was former education minister Maszlee Malik’s loss in Layang-Layang. A splashy new addition to the party, Maszlee had been tipped as a potential menteri besar in the run-up to the polls.

Pejuang

The Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led party made a statement of intent when it announced it would contest 42 seats, more than any other party.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

Unfortunately, it didn’t win a single one.

With its chairman Mahathir not planning to contest in GE15, that leaves his son Mukhriz as Pejuang’s lone prominent figure. Given the way it stumbled out of the gate in Johor, it’ll take some doing to reverse its fortunes should a general election be held soon.

New parties

There were six new parties – Pejuang, Muda, Parti Bangsa Malaysia, Warisan, Putra and Parti Sosialis Malaysia – contesting 61 seats in the Johor polls.

With the exception of Muda, which won Puteri Wangsa (albeit with some help from PH), all the others lost their seats.

Worse still, all the small-party candidates lost their deposits, meaning they could not even get 12.5% of the votes cast.

Will their fates be any different in GE15?