No more political frogs? Malaysia’s anti-hopping law doesn’t stop parties from switching sides

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new anti-hopping law – which aims to discourage lawmakers from switching political parties – will not guarantee the country’s stability in the short-term, as it does not prevent an entire party from shifting their allegiances, said some observers. 

The landmark legislation took effect on Oct 5, just five days before caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament and called an early election. 

Dr Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said: “Political instability is often a price to pay for democratic transition. You might have, for example, previously Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling for a long time, and then there was a switch of government, and then switching back again. 

“I think you are likely to see, for example, alliances of convenience in order to form a ruling coalition in Malaysia for quite some time to come.”

With more than 900 candidates vying for 222 parliamentary seats at this general election, analysts said the splitting of votes is expected in a number of areas and the main coalitions are unlikely to achieve a simple majority.

Political parties on all sides have formed electoral pacts with one another to pool resources and avoid clashes. 

Observers are, however, unsure if these pacts will stay or whether new alliances will be forged after the polls. 

After all, the law considers coalition realignments to be permissible and does not prevent an entire party leaving one coalition for another.

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