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Will Malaysia's urban Malays vote for change?

The voting intentions of Malaysia's urban Malays matter because in a hard-fought battle, every vote counts, arguably even more so in this election, which has seen a scramble for the allegiance of Malay voters among several parties.
The voting intentions of Malaysia's urban Malays matter because in a hard-fought battle, every vote counts, arguably even more so in this election, which has seen a scramble for the allegiance of Malay voters among several parties.

In many studies around the world, researchers have found an urban-rural divide during elections, with city dwellers being more willing to vote for change.

Various reasons have been offered to explain this phenomenon. Some analysts believe that urban voters are generally bolder in breaking from the status quo because they tend to be better educated and better informed in their decision-making. One study of African voters, published in 2013, found that unlike urban voters, rural ones were more susceptible to clientelism, in which politicians promised targeted benefits in exchange for support. The incumbents were seen as being more likely to fulfil election promises because they had more to offer and this belief favours them in rural areas.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline Will Malaysia's urban Malays vote for change?. Subscribe