Sunday, April 28, 2024

Parti Keadilan Rakyat: Killing me softly

Murray Hunter

Parti Keadilan Rakyat: Killing me softly

PKR's decline into irrelevancy

APR 28, 2024

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song.

--- Charles Fox composer

Parti Keadilan’s share of the aggregate vote at general elections has been in decline since the 2013 general election, where the party gained 20.39 percent of the aggregate vote. During the 2022 general election PKR won only 15.74 percent of the aggregate vote. The ailing UMNO gained 100,000 more votes than PKR, obtaining 16.43 percent of the aggregate vote.

PKR’s numerical vote has only gone up by some 180,000 since 2013, not even keeping up with the growth in registered voters over the last decade. Support for PKR is continuing to decline. If current trends continue, PKR may be lucky to hold 20 seats in the new parliament after GE16.

Developing greater support for PKR is a real problem, that few are willing to even talk about. There is a possibility that PKR could fall apart after the Anwar Ibrahim era. No successors or future visons are being nurtured by the party. Future historians may easily be tempted to make the judgement that PKR was only designed as a platform to bring Anwar to power. This is already being said about BERSIH.

PKR’s traditional support base has been disappointed two times now. First between 2018-2020, and secondly under Anwar in 2022. Supporters are seeing that PKR has turned out not to be the reformist party it was made out to be, and even worse, PKR is really a race-based party, rather than a multiracial party.

Yet PKR’s failure to capture the Malay vote is a major factor constraining the party’s growth and appeal. Anwar’s narratives just haven’t won the Malay’s confidence.

The party grassroots are generally unhappy at a time where there should be a crescendo of support for the party. The hardcore of ‘Anwarists’ are becoming disillusioned. This will steadily continue and eat into the spirit of PKR.

PKR is not bringing the change that many waited 25 years to see.

PKR is failing in its quest to win the hearts and minds of the traditional Malay heartlands. Amanah didn’t rise to expectations, and Pakatan found itself with UMNO, that is looking more like a party from yesteryear. With UMNO, the Najib issue still festers and could become even more destructive for PKR, should Najib be released into home detention.

Anwar with a huge super majority in the parliament could have boldly gone out, worrying about the consequences later. Malaysia really needed some spirit of Gaddafi, Mandela, or even Trump to lead the nation.

The political narratives have got stuck on issues that really aren’t going to change the lives of the Rakyat. They have all just been symbolic fights that really don’t change anything.

Anwar didn’t come out early and outline his vision for Malaysia. People saw through the slick packaging of the ‘Madani’ brand very quickly. Malaysians really don’t know what Anwar’s vision really is. It very much looks just like more of the same, that Malaysians got from previous administrations before him.

Ironically, it may be economic issues and the rising cost of living that costs PKR support. People will just ask themselves the question, were they better off under former administrations, or now under the premiership of Anwar Ibrahim? Statements like poverty has been eliminated in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan just rubbed salt into the wounds of those who are suffering from low salaries and rising costs of living. This just highlights the lack of empathy PKR in government has for the people of Malaysia.

The DAP that is now the major component of the Pakatan Harapan must be very shrewd to ensure it doesn’t go down along with PKR and UMNO in the next general election. DAP has a strong support base which should keep its parliamentary representation around 38-40 seats. After the next general election, the DAP must find a new place for itself, either in a new government, or out alone once again in opposition. In the next parliament the DAP should be the second largest party in the parliament, and must make a hard decision whether to stay with PKR or go on its own.

If PKR is set adrift by the DAP, it wont last long politically.

The biggest problem for PKR is there is no clear succession line. Rafizi Ramli’s poor performance as a minister has drastically weakened his position. Rafizi cannot claim to be Anwar’s heir apparent. There are very few other names that could be mentioned as potential successors at this time. There is no one out there with a vision for PKR without Anwar. There is the possibility that PKR will not be able to consolidate and rebuild itself after the next election. Anwar may not be happy to become opposition leader once again. PKR may just erode away through subsequent general elections.

PKR has lost its identity now. It must find a new purpose. There may be 1.6 million members on the books. UMNO had 3.44 million members but never received that many votes in any general election.

Perhaps, the long-term decline of PKR will not come through the loss of voters switching to other political parties. Many urban non-Malays the support based for PKR won’t vote for Perikatan Nasional. The decline will come from those who decide not to go out and vote on election day. PKR will die from apathy, rather than the growth in support for other parties.

The coming Kuala Kubu Baharu byelection may go some way into proving or disproving the above hypothesis. Voter turnout figure will be key.

Unfortunately, its Anwar’s own words that are killing PKR.

1 comment:

  1. The fundamental rationale of Reformasi is still totally relevant in Malaysia 2024. It's not going anywhere.

    The problem is the party and it's President have betrayed it's original struggle.