KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's March 8 election is likely to shape the course of economic and social policy over the next five years, even if it doesn't deliver a new government.
The ruling coalition has governed in various forms since independence in 1957, telling voters it is the only group that represents all major races and can keep the peace between them.
The Barisan Nasional coalition portrays opposition parties are racially divided and a threat to stability, but even the opposition admits it is too weak to challenge for power.
Instead, elections boil down to a battle over public policy and reputations, but there can still be a surprising number of political casualties.
Here are some possible scenarios: 1. THE PM'S WORST NIGHTMARE, 2. OPPOSITION, ISLAMISTS LOSE GROUND, 3. ANWAR IBRAHIM: COMEBACK OR COMPLETE COLLAPSE? - reuters.com
The ruling coalition will win; but maybe not by enough for the prime minister: ETHNIC strife, rising prices and sagging approval ratings are poor portents of electoral success. So this week's dissolution of parliament by Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, more than a year before its term expires, suggests his strategists have some tricks up their sleeves. Or perhaps they reckon the going is unlikely to improve, and may worsen if America suffers a recession. The Election Commission has set March 8th as the date of the ballot.
No one expects Mr Badawi to repeat his storming debut in 2004, when he led the ruling coalition to a 90% sweep of 219 seats in Parliament. Defeat is unthinkable: the coalition has won every election since independence in 1957. But party officials are braced for a dip in support and the opposition smells blood. Mr Badawi, who replaced long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad, said this week that he would be content with a two-thirds majority. Anything less, say analysts, and party rivals might pounce. […here Snap! It’s an election – economist.com, and …here: Malaysia's Vote to Test New Era of Democracy – wallstreet.com]