Malaysian political parties and coalitions

Authored by: Ong Kian Ming

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Malaysia

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415816731
eBook ISBN: 9781315756240
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629597


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The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of political parties and coalitions in Malaysia in the context of existing political science theories with specific emphasis on features which are of interest from a comparative politics perspective. First, the nature of political party competition is discussed by placing the ruling coalition and the opposition along various dimensions of political party competition – the ethnic, local and emerging ‘democracy’ dimensions. Second, the challenges of building and maintaining political coalitions are discussed including the incentives and strategies used to sustain the ruling coalition and the absence of similar incentives for many short-lived opposition coalitions. The favourable circumstances underlying the formation and development of the most recent opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, seem to indicate a consolidation of the two coalition system in Malaysia. Third, a brief overview in terms of the structures of the major political parties is given. Fourth and finally, a few words are offered with regard to possible developments in the political landscape in the future pertaining to political parties and coalitions.

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