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The 2013 Malaysian Elections: Ethnic Politics or Urban Wave?

  • Jason Wei Jian Ng, Gary John Rangel, Santha Vaithilingam and Subramaniam S. Pillay


In this article we examine the electoral impact of urbanization vis-à-vis ethnicity in Malaysia. We employ a robust econometric technique, the fractional response logit model, on data from the recently concluded thirteenth general election. The findings show that there are both an ethnic effect and an urban effect in determining the distribution of parliamentary seats among the political groups. Strong support for the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, was evident in urban constituencies, while the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, continued to enjoy success in rural constituencies. Although Barisan Nasional is still dependent on Bumiputera support, its success is also dependent on non-Bumiputera support from rural constituencies. However, with declining birthrates among the Chinese electorates, this support may not be forthcoming in future elections. We also provide insights for both coalitions to consider in developing strategies for the next election.

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