KUALA LUMPUR - The level of interest to vote in the Malaysian general election is high, with nearly eight in 10 people saying they will cast their ballots on Saturday, according to a survey by Selangor government-linked think-tank Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE).
In the survey conducted between Oct 21 and Nov 4 with Japan’s Toyo University and Universiti Selangor’s Institute of Electoral Studies and Advancement of Democracy, 79 per cent of respondents said they will go out and vote, while 16.4 per cent said they were unsure.
Only 4.6 per cent said they will not vote, in the survey involving 2,423 people across 165 parliamentary wards in Peninsular Malaysia.
The findings were revealed by IDE executive chairman Mohammad Redzuan Othman on Tuesday.
Historically, turnout for Malaysia’s national polls has never fallen below 70 per cent. Voting is not compulsory in the country.
During the 2013 and 2018 general elections, voter turnout registered at 85 per cent and 82.32 per cent respectively.
A higher electorate turnout, especially of outstation or overseas voters who are more likely to vote against the incumbent administration, is crucial for opposition candidates, as it can swing the outcome.
Conventional wisdom dictates that a low voter turnout is likely to mean a Barisan Nasional victory, as its well-oiled election machinery is certain to bring out its hardcore supporters, come rain or shine.
The IDE survey also found that the high level of interest in voting cuts across racial and age barriers.
Nearly 80 per cent of ethnic Malays and Chinese say they will exercise their right to vote while eight in 10 Indian respondents said the same.
Voters aged 31 to 60 were the most excited to vote, with 80.4 per cent of them saying they will do so.
This was followed by the cohort aged above 61 (79.4 per cent), and then those aged 21 to 30 (76.4 per cent) and those aged 18 to 20 (68.1 per cent).
The survey also found that 24.1 per cent of respondents say party manifestos will influence their votes while nearly 22 per cent say they will take into consideration the economic situation.
Who the candidates are and which party they represent formed only 20.1 per cent and 10.1 per cent of the respondents’ consideration.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is the most popular leader among respondents of the survey, with 31.5 per cent saying they have confidence that the Parti Keadilan Rakyat president can lead Malaysia.
Caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was in second place, at 24.9 per cent, and former premier Muhyiddin Yassin came in third at 20.3 per cent.
Less than 2 per cent of respondents said they have confidence in Umno president Zahid Hamidi to lead the country.