Wednesday, October 03, 2012

GE13 Won’t Be About the Fabled Two-Thirds Majority

From The Choice.

You don't have to look hard in Putrajaya to find old men who are nostalgic about the fabled two-thirds majority.
Many of them are older Malay MPs and senior Umno officials who prefer to live in the past because things were simpler back then.
BN was easily returned at every election, there was no need for anything as extreme as political reform in tune with changing times, and a seat in the Dewan Rakyat was, for the most part, a ticket for life.
The GE12 came along and ruined everything. The loss of the two-thirds majority sparked a chorus of grieving not just because BN could no longer alter the constitution, but because the old guard felt they had lost prestige – and they had.
In turn they got rid of the man they blamed for the disaster, Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and breathed a sigh of relief when Najib took the helm.
He'll get it back for us, they thought.
Except there is a good chance Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak isn't even thinking about anachronisms like the two-thirds majority right now. What Najib wants at GE13 is to be returned with a working majority.
He doesn't want to just scrape over the line. 112 seats out of 222 would hardly send a message of a clear mandate and it wouldn't cover him for absentees from the house or rebels who cross the floor in defiance of the whip.
For a pragmatist like Najib, a working majority is enough for him to form a Government able to weather the occasional act of defiance and complete his reform agenda – no less, no more.
It begs the question: will a working majority be enough for the old guard? The answer to that is, who knows.
But it would be a brave, if not bloody-minded, 2013 Umno General Assembly that turned on the PM who returned it to office just four years after suffering a 14 per cent swing against it.
The painful reality is that the two-thirds majority might be gone for ever. Party politics has become more fractured, our political tastes have evolved and fewer people will say publicly that they vote for a particular party "because my father always did".
These days issues and leadership are key.
A look at other bicameral parliamentary democracies around the world makes the two-thirds majority seem like the Malaysian constitutional quirk that it is. It doesn't exist in the Westminster Parliaments of the UK, Australia or New Zealand.
In those countries, the aim of any party is, once again, no more than a working majority to fulfil its mandate.
In Australia, the ruling Labor Party doesn't have a majority, let alone a working majority, with just 72 of the 150 lower house seats.
The result is that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's minority Government is impotent.
Evidence of this is its chronic inability to implement the Malaysia Solution to deal with asylum seekers despite trying for more than two years.
In the UK, the Conservative Party's coalition with the Liberal Democrats has meant both parties making huge ideological compromises, but they at least have a working majority of 83 seats in the 650 seat House of Commons.
Pakatan Rakyat has a two-faced approach to the two-thirds majority. It is happy to use it as a political weapon, readily reminding BN of what it lost at GE12.
But at the same time, they wouldn't dare to make it a prerequisite for success at GE13. Anwar would treat 112 seats as the fulfilment of all his dreams.
The bottom line in all this is that Najib has proven that he doesn't need a two-thirds majority to transform the nation.
He has completed the most dramatic reform agenda in our history without it. He has transformed the way we vote, repealed the ISA and the Sedition Act, reformed the Printing Presses and Publications Act and introduced the landmark Peaceful Assembly Bill.
And the bad news for those old men who yearn for the good old days is that he is also reforming the BN seat selection process. Some of them are set to be "reformed" into retirement.
Najib's transformation agenda is a work in progress and while no leader would turn down a two-thirds majority, he has already shown that a working majority is all that he needs to get things done.


Anonymous said...

more likely that he will get the sack if there is a poor showing despite all the attempts to spin in case of a poor showing by Choice

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