It is 243 days to the dissolution of Parliament and general election fever is at its peak. Just a few months ago, Phar Kim Beng, a visiting scholar at Waseda University in Tokyo, wrote an opinion piece published by the South China Morning Post, saying the 14th general election will be like none other.
Now when was the last time I have heard that “none other” remark? Right, it was the previous general election, and the one before that. Like the 1999 general election which came right after the Reformasi protests.
That September of ‘98 saw Malaysians take to the streets to protest against the then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s heavy-handed efforts against Anwar Ibrahim. It is the stuff of a Hollywood movie: Mahathir sacks Anwar as deputy prime minister and finance minister over allegations of sodomy, sexual misconduct and corruption, in the midst of an economic recession.
A few days later, Anwar is detained under the now-defunct Internal Security Act and is held incommunicado. He is then brought to court and charged with nine counts of graft and sodomy, but he appears with a black eye and bruises.
He was refused medical treatment throughout and his wife and supporters quickly charge the police with mistreatment and physical abuse. Malaysians take to the streets to demonstrate and demand for political reform. The Reformasi, in a nutshell.
I glossed over a lot of details here but read John Funston’s Malaysia: A Fateful September for a masterful account, while an abbreviated version can be found in Amy L. Freedman’s book Political Change and Consolidation: Democracy’s Rocky Road in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia.
That this was a call for reform, I was curious to know: if the Reformasi worked in ‘98, would the country bear witness to Anwar the president of Umno, instead of Anwar the de facto leader of PKR?
My curiosity is not without context. Anwar and Umno have cleared said he will not join the party, but at this juncture in 1998, there was historical precedence for this. Mahathir was expelled from the party during his political career and came back stronger to remake both the party and Malaysian politics.
In 1989, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged Mahathir and the legality of Barisan Nasional by forming Semangat ‘46. But after a poor showing, Semangat ‘46 members including Razaleigh were back in the Umno fold.
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad tells me:
“No. A few days after his sacking, Anwar made the Permatang Pauh Declaration that was multiethnic in nature. Reformasi chose a different route to Umno from day one and PKR is proof of that. We are the most multiethnic and national of all parties in Malaysia. The only one with an assemblyman in every state.”
Nik Nazmi is PKR Youth leader, Seri Setia assemblyman and a Selangor state executive councillor. He was 16 when the Reformasi happened and that event shaped his political leanings. Given his credentials, it’s obvious why his answer sounds so salesy. Yet it is undeniable that the Reformasi was a product of an elite conflict within Umno.
“In retrospect, the immediate origins of the Mahathir-Anwar fall-out can be dated to mid-1997. In May that year, Mahathir went on two month's leave, putting Anwar fully in charge. This and Anwar's forceful intervention on corruption issues alarmed his opponents within Umno. They redoubled efforts to discredit him.”
This was not the first elite conflict within Umno; the only difference here is Anwar’s expulsion and arrest evoked an unparalleled mass response.
But the Reformasi changed the electoral landscape in two ways: first, as the movement resonated among the youth, especially Malay voters, future elections became more contentious.
Second, with the Reformasi, a semblance of a multiracial party was born, Keadilan (which would later be rebranded as PKR in 2003), with Anwar as de facto leader. Also, cooperation among opposition elites opened up newer communication channels that resulted in the creation of Barisan Alternatif, a counterweight to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
But during the 1999 general election, Barisan Nasional came out as winners. As this election followed the Reformasi, analysts were predicting imminent changes in the political system, such as increased democracy, changes in ethnic voting patterns, middle-class realignments.
So, what changed? For starters, popular support for the Barisan Nasional dropped from 65.1% in 1995 to 56.5%. Some coalition leaders, such as then education minister Najib Razak (now prime minister) only scraped by with razor-thin majorities. Najib’s majority collapsed from 10,793 to a mere 261.
Umno’s share of seats in parliament fell from 94 to 72, of which only 61 were on the peninsula. Four ministers and five deputy ministers lost their seats. Most of the losses were in Malay-majority constituencies, the traditional electoral base of Umno.
Describing the post-election mood of ‘99, Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian affairs specialist, writes:
“The post-election mood among Umno elites was grim, even described by one party loyalist as a ‘catastrophe’, as it became obvious that Malays no longer supported Umno to the same extent as before. This loss would reverberate through the party ranks, as Umno entered a ‘crisis’ mode. Although the Barisan Alternatif had not managed to break the Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds hold on parliament, the opposition had managed to seriously undermine Mahathir’s position.”
On the opposition’s end, they only won 42 parliament seats and 113 state seats, 22% and 28% of those contested respectively. PAS gained the most ground securing control of Terengganu and seats outside the rural Malay heartland via the Barisan Alternatif alliance.
DAP lost seats in Chinese and middle-class areas, although it picked up a seat in a multi-ethnic constituency courtesy of its coalition partnership and its overall share of the popular vote saw an uptick. But two of its heavyweights, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, lost in tight races. Keadilan, on the other hand, only managed to come out with a handful of victories.
This election shaped the outlook for both coalitions, even leading to the end of Barisan Alternatif. But what I want to zero in is on the lost itself – why didn’t the Reformasi create enough momentum to reflect regime change at the 1999 general election?
The answers are complex. There was a perception problem. Despite Reformasi and Barisan Alternatif leaders endorsing multiracialism, the non-Malays saw the Anwar problem as an intra-Malay or intra-Umno struggle.
The non-Malays were also calling for justice, a free press, and so on, but their reasons for these demands had little to do with religion (in this case, Islam) or even Anwar for that matter, and here’s the thing: past opposition coalitions failed because voters’ norms had not altered to a sufficient extent.
Under Mahathir, all the checks and balances in a democracy, from the judiciary to the aristocracy to the press and even the ruling party, were severely weakened.
Dan Slater of the University of Chicago writes in Iron Cage in an Iron Fist: Authoritarian Institutions and the Personalisation of Politics in Malaysia:
“But to the extent that these institutions historically served as authoritarian institutions – as the party state's organizational basis for political control over potential opposition, including dissent from within the party-state itself – they have served as much as Mahathir's accomplices as his victims.”
One regional event that ran parallel with the Reformasi was the May 1998 riots of Indonesia. The social unrest that transpired after the fall of Suharto appeared to have benefited the Malaysian ruling coalition than the opposition.
But while Barisan Nasional used ethnic strife as campaign issue, the opposition raised the inequality of the non-Malays under the New Economic Policy in public meetings, ironically only serving to reinforce the image of an ethnic divide.
Welsh is spot on when she writes:
“Election campaigns serve to remind Malaysians that ethnicity is the defining feature of politics.” Two decades on, that still remains true.
In his observation on the 10th general election, Nik Nazmi tells me:
“Political change takes time. The majority of Malays voted for change in 1999 but the non-Malays were scared. Keadilan’s grassroots and machinery were new, so PAS benefitted more.”
He is partially correct. It is undeniable that a stronger PAS incentivised Mahathir to cite Indonesia and communal violence as an example of what might happen if Barisan Nasional lost.
That might have worked, but challenging Mahathir and Umno rule might have resulted in a more levelled playing ground where the Chinese could have become more powerful players, but the Chinese were among the strongest supporters of the status quo.
Why? That we have to look at the contentious New Economic Policy. It’s undeniable that the policy facilitated the growth of an urban, well-educated Malay middle class, and it’s quite ironic that Mahathir facilitated the growth of the social forces – the youth and the middle class – that would seriously challenge his rule.
But the Chinese business community benefited enormously from Mahathir’s protective policies and the economy rebound in 1999. Also as a consequence of the policy, Chinese business forged close alliances with Malay elites – political and economic elites.
The National Economic Policy was a massive affirmative action campaign to redistribute wealth, jobs and corporate control to ethnic Malays. So once the policy kicked in, Chinese businesses were forced to form partnerships with Malays, hire a certain number of Malay employees and do business with Malay companies.
In essence, what the policy did was bring in a more aggressive government involvement in economy, so as a result, Malay companies with close ties and financing connections to Umno were set up to partner with Chinese businesses to fulfill policy requirements.
By 1997, many businesses and business leaders – Chinese, Malay and Indian – had close associations with Barisan Nasional politicians or their friends/relatives. Freedman in her observation of the Reformasi protests, writes:
“Not only were the Chinese not significantly represented in the protests, they seemed to stay home during the protests.”
With economic, personal, and security interests at stake, the Chinese opted for continued Barisan Nasional rule, not the alternative coalition opposing Mahathir.
But there’s another factor that needs to be raised: the absence of Anwar in Umno.
To begin with, understand that Malaysia’s middle class is different from the reform movements in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, which were also called “new middle class movements” where the intellectuals and an economically well-off middle class combined forces and struggled for reform.
Circa 1998, the Malaysian middle class consisted of two layers of affiliations:
Stakeholders (including non-Malays) who have been policy beneficiaries and are content with the political status quo;
Ethnic Malays and Bumiputeras who are privileged over not just other Malaysians but also members of this ethnic community from a lower class background.
So for ideas of reform to travel from bottom to top, you need to be politically well-connected. That was the business of the day.
Anwar’s sacking from Umno meant that there was a lack of alliance partners within the decision-making elite. He was definitely high up there and was pushing for reforms, but those did not pan out.
He had begun to function as an ally of non-governmental organisations and think tanks when he was in office. Anwar’s absence from ruling circles left a gap, meaning change only proceeded incrementally instead of being enhanced by concerted collective action.
When Mr Clean tried tinkering with political reform
Another “none other” election was in 2008. The results were so shocking that it prompted DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang to write:
“There is a political tsunami in the 12th general election, with the Barisan Nasional suffering probably its biggest setback in history.”
Before all that happened, few believed that there were any real chances for meaningful political change through the ballot box. You get a sense of that by reading works from academics such as Sheila Nair in The Limits of Protest and Prospects for Political Reform in Malaysia, published the year preceding the 12th general election.
“Little has changed in the overall structure and pattern of state-society relations in post-crisis Malaysia despite Reformasi’s hopeful interventions.”
Such pessimism came from the landslide victory of Barisan Nasional at the 2004 general election. Led by Abdullah Badawi – also known as “Mr Clean” for his moderate Islamic stance as well as commitment to reform – the ruling regime secured 90% of all seats.
Also, it seemed that 2007 was the year of high-level personnel problems within Umno, such as the controversial rise of Khairy Jamaluddin, son-in-law of then prime minister Abdullah; the continued influence of Mahathir, now retired; and the scandal involving then deputy prime minister Najib Razak, whose confidante Abdul Razak Baginda was jailed over suspicion of masterminding the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.
In between these were signs of growing dissatisfaction with the ruling coalition. First, the abovementioned political scandals and controversies dented Abdullah’s “Mr Clean” image.
One common conclusion is that the March 8 outcomes is simply that the corruption and scandals of Malaysian politics drove voters to reject the ruling regime of the day. But like everything in life, it isn’t that simple.
Second, ethnic tensions surfaced by way of the Hindu Rights Action Force. The regime dealt a heavy-handed response to the peaceful protests staged by disenfranchised Indians with some of their leaders detained under the defunct Internal Security Act.
But this, too, was nothing new and ethnic tensions extended beyond the complaints of Hindraf. Since the promulgation of the New Economy Policy in 1971, “race” has been a central consideration for every policy decision.
While the Malays benefitted from this policy, as noted with the Reformasi, the non-Malays also did reap the benefits – it all depended on where you stood in the scheme of things. Dealing with the Indians, their plight and problems, remain a longstanding policy nightmare.
But ethnic relations took a different turn in 2005 when at the Umno General Assembly, Hishammuddin Hussein brandished a keris. Such violent imagery was fodder for the opposition’s campaign against Barisan Nasional’s policies.
Adding to this mix was a march by the Malaysian Bar Council on September 24, 2007 and the first Bersih rally. Both called for political reform and such activism were confronted by security officials.
Many seem to hold the Bersih rallies in high esteem and attribute that to the strengthening of the opposition. Meredith L. Weiss, a long-time observer of Malaysian politics, tells me in an email correspondence that:
“I think Bersih did mobilise quite a lot of people to vote, and specifically to vote opposition, in 2013. If not for Bersih and the concerns it aggregated and projected regarding Malaysia's political system, I doubt the opposition would have won the majority of the popular vote.”
Lee Hwok-Aun, a fellow at Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, also credited Bersih and he tells me:
“Public protests have achieved a number of things, though people will have their own views -- and expectations – on whether they have brought about enough change… The organised objections to the electoral re-delineation exercise was unprecedented, and Bersih deserves credit on the part of political awareness and mobilisation.”
Finally, there was a growing dissatisfaction with Malaysia’s economy, particularly rising inflation. Barisan Nasional’s strength has always been its management of basic goods and prices. While petroleum subsidies kept fuel price growth lower than inflation, year-on-year inflation rates for food and non-alcoholic beverages saw a significant rise: 3.9% in January and 4.9% in March.
Mark Bendeich, a journalist for Reuters, writing on the eve of the elections observed that racial tensions were not Abdullah’s only problem. “Rising living costs and popular anger over street crime are also eating away at his popularity.”
By now, you would probably notice a pattern. It’s the same shtick but that doesn’t mean the 2008 elections was a rehash of the events of 1999.
Think about it: were such allegations thrown at the ruling regime anything new? Barisan Nasional had a long history of corruption and cronyism, so these newer scandals cannot explain the 2008 outcome. The regime also has experience weathering economic crises, having withstood two of them: 1985-1986 and 1997-1999. Both were more severe than the economic slowdown of 2007.
Going up against Barisan Nasional and its machinery were DAP, PAS and PKR. These three worked together during the Barisan Alternatif days but the coalition fell apart due to infighting.
This time round, they were able to coordinate informally during the nomination process to ensure that only one opposition candidate challenged each Umno incumbent.
The general election was called for March 8 and the campaign period was 13 days. Anwar and other opposition leaders fiercely complained about the timing because Anwar was banned from running in an election until April 15 that year over a questionable conviction on corruption charges. The March date prevented him from standing for office.
But it wasn’t just Anwar. Thomas Pepinsky of Cornell University writes in a detailed study, The 2008 Malaysian Elections, “that the early date also may have reflected concerns within the Barisan Nasional that a global economic downturn might further undermine Malaysia's economic prospects.”
The results were surprising: Barisan Nasional managed to hold on to just slightly more than 63% of all available seats in parliamentary elections.
The ruling coalition failed in Kelantan, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Selangor with mixed results in Perak (this before the constitutional crisis). Yet it was able to retain Sabah and Sarawak and did fairly well in other states such as Johor and Perlis.
The opposition’s success is also quite diverse. In ethnically heterogeneous states such as Penang, Perak and Selangor, the multiethnic PKR and largely Chinese DAP emerged victorious.
PAS was able to hold on to Kelantan and win Kedah, the “Malay heartland” states. It was also able to win several seats in Selangor, Perak and Kuala Lumpur.
It marked the first time since the 1969 election that the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, did not win a two-thirds supermajority in Parliament.
But what again led to a Barisan win despite a strong opposition showing? Ethnic relations. Pepinsky’s paper has this down in granular data, but here is an interesting takeaway:
Non-Malay grievances against the Barisan boiled over at the polls with Chinese and Indian voters rejecting the ruling regime when given the option of choosing secular opposition parties that toyed with ending preferences.
Though, note: the only exception is when PAS ran against Umno. In those districts, the non-Malays voted for Umno, despite PAS’s efforts in allaying fears of any chauvinistic or Islamist proclivities.
As for the Malays, they continued to vote Umno-Barisan Nasional, especially when the coalition was up against DAP. Although PKR and PAS fared better, they only bagged under half of the Malay voters in districts they ran.
Such ethnic resentments are not new and this is repeated to a certain degree in the 13th general election. Prime Minister Najib was to a certain extent correct when he said it was a “Chinese tsunami”.
Abdillah Noh of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak covered this well in Malaysia 13th General Election: A Short Note on Malaysia’s Continuing Battle with Ethnic Politics.
Back to the 12th general election. While ethnic tensions kept Barisan in power, there were some changes, contrary to Nair’s gloomy observation.
From what we gather in the previous elections, Barisan had the tools to shut down its challengers: past instances of political turmoil saw the regime resort to economic favouritism, ethnic intimidation (think: Reformasi) and political coercion, among others.
Under Mahathir, the regime tightened its grip further on ethnic groups as well as political institutions, the latter especially molded to channel the demands of a powerful executive.
The difference is how the elites approached elections, and this is primarily due to Abdullah “Mr Clean” Badawi and his leadership style. During campaigning period, they didn’t employ tactics that protected them in the past, especially those that shored up support among non-Malays.
The conclusions from opposition strategists gives us some insight. When asked why they think Barisan Nasional lost its supermajority, DAP strategist Ong Kian Ming attributes it to voters being “more sophisticated” or better informed.
Malaysiakini co-founder Steve Gan believes what may have played a key role in opposition organising is the regime’s relaxed attitude toward the Internet which enabled online journalists to report on the Barisan Nasional in ways not possible in traditional media.
These may not be entirely wrong but closer scrutiny suggests that the reason we have not seen a repeat of ‘99 and that Gan and Ong could make those statements, is because the elites did not not employ the tactics that have protected them in election, especially those that shore up its support among the non-Malays.
As noted earlier, Abdullah was a more moderate figure than his predecessor Mahathir. He had an even temperament, making him less polarising; Mahathir was known for their fierce guardianship of Barisan Nasional supremacy.
But Abdullah’s moderation came at a cost: his leadership was seen to be weak and many voters perceived him to be ineffectual.
Observe: Mahathir went to great lengths to use the tools available to him to prevail at the ballot box. Among others, lambasting soft-liners and liberals as puppets of the West, jailing opponents of the coalition, and deploying resources to turn out supports and suppress the opposition vote.
The Barisan Nasional campaign of 2008 featured none of those until after the elections. Now that is something fresh.
That unpredictable animal called Change
I am starting off with the premise that Malaysia can afford regime change and I am putting forward the concept of “strong-state democratisation” by academician Dan Slater to justify my argument.
It first begins with an admission that authoritarianism as a legitimate form of government, and that is at its strongest when it is widely perceived as a necessary stabiliser – this durability in Malaysia has always rested upon this perception and it is the same for Singapore, but we will leave that island alone for now and instead look at Northeast Asia for an example.
What led me to this was a conversation I had with a certain millennial named Adam Reza. He is 26 years old and an analyst with local consultancy group KRA Group.
“I think we need mature politics,” he tells me. “And our institutions will not crumble. I really doubt it that Bank Negara will be in trouble should the opposition come to power tomorrow.”
That made sense and this is what strong-state democratisation advocates. Japan underwent this process in the 1940s, South Korea followed suit in 1980s, and Taiwan did likewise in the 1990s. In each country, inherited legacies of state power endured after authoritarianism ended, as did underlying political stability and effective governance.
Years of state-sponsored development and poverty reduction under authoritarian conditions produced moderate, middle-class electorates that eschewed radical policies and favoured conservative, formerly authoritarian ruling parties at the polls.
When strong-state dictatorships foster democratisation at times of relative prosperity and stability, as in Korea and Taiwan, stability and democracy coincide.
So what happens if Malaysia underwent democratisation? This theory advocates that none of the state’s institutions would lost their impressive capacity, this includes extractive fiscal institutions such as the Employees’ Provident Fund, the Inland Revenue Board, Bank Negara Malaysia.
Also, democratisation would not prevent coercive institutions from preserving public order. Even democracies conduct surveillance and police their citizens, and few new democracies would be better equipped to do so as expertly and effectively.
This is not only because coercive institutions in Malaysia are efficient, but because they are civilianised. That’s why military regimes often see their main institution of repression crumble during democratisation, such as what happened in Indonesia.
There is a lot more to digest here and you can dive deeper by reading Slater’s work Strong-state Democratisation in Malaysia and Singapore.
The important lesson is strong-state democratisation does not mean political destabilisation, even if freer and fairer elections were to deliver power into the hands of leading oppositionists.
But it has to be initiated by the ruling regime. What is much less clear, however, is whether the opposition is either well-positioned or well-prepared to assume the mantle of power.
So here’s what I have learned after hammering out a few thousand words and talking to a few people about this:
Change comes from a reform-minded leader and this is usually from the ruling party
That is why the Reformasi never took off, or at least to a desired scale. When Anwar was in Umno, he was connected to various non-governmental organisations and business folk and could lobby for change from within.
But when Anwar was booted out of the Cabinet and Umno, what that essentially created was a lack of alliance partners for businessmen and think tanks within the political elite.
Anwar was that ally when he was in office; his absence from the ruling circles left a gap, creating shallow opportunity structures.
When Abdullah took over the reins from Mahathir, his image as “Mr Clean” and his advocacy for moderation conferred that much needed political legitimacy to the ruling coalition to make a near-clean sweep of Parliament.
Under his leadership, small and medium enterprises were given much needed attention including cottage industries led by poor, rural Bumiputeras as a mechanism to alleviate poverty.
He advocated for Islam Hadari or Islamic civilisation that ran counter to the brand of Islam by PAS; Abdullah’s version was more inclusive. He pushed for Islamic-based financial programmes as an alternative to the conventional banking and insurance services.
But it was his intention to create autonomous oversight institutions to deal with corruption and after he opened up space for dissent that the middle class had some hope that change was imminent.
Yet he was not able to convince Umno elites that his agenda was the right one. After all, Abdullah was the one who warned that stern action would be taken against the “Little Napoleons” who delayed implementations of the country’s development.
Edmund Terence Gomez, of the Universiti of Malaya, provides some background information here in Resisting the Fall: The Single Dominant Party, Policies and Elections in Malaysia.
“While power was concentrated in Umno’s apex under Mahathir, the most striking feature of power transition under Abdullah was the growing influence of the warlords, an outcome of his accommodation of powerful grassroots leaders. Talk of the influence of Umno warlords was commonplace as party division heads controlled large segments of the grassroots. When Abdullah tried to placate party warlords, even to the point of overlooking serious allegations of corruption against them, this undermined his credibility”
So, when 2008 came, Abdullah was perceived as a failure for not instituting his political and economic reforms. It was clear that he failed to fulfil his pledges, and the rest is history.
Somehow this mirrored 1998. When the more “liberal” policies tried by Anwar did not produce improved economic conditions, it opened the door for Mahathir to sideline Anwar and his supporters, and eventually remove him entirely.
I asked Weiss on what Malaysians should work towards as the 14th general election is just around the corner. Observing that not everyone desires the same changes, she writes:
“In general, though, the emphasis among voters and legislators alike in Malaysia is less on policymaking and evaluation of platforms and policy performance than on more short-term, particularistic benefits, which tends to foster a less programmatic emphasis than I personally – as an observer with no ‘skin in the game’– think preferable.”
Hey, that is great, and I am all for it, but how many would bother looking into policies? Much of what's happening globally corroborate the theory that voters are not primarily driven by rational economic interests; instead, they are guided by their relationships and attitudes towards other social groups.
Anyway, the fact remains: it is the intra-elite cleavages within Umno and Barisan Nasional that will set the pace for this election.
For Malaysia to truly liberalise, the soft-liners and the moderates from Barisan Nasional must believe that such liberalisation holds the key to their political survival; the hard-liners need to be contained.
This also applies to the opposition. The good part at this juncture, to quote Lee Hwok-Aun of ISEAS, is "Malaysia's democracy remains starkly deficient, but there has been some progress."
The sad part is in an ideal world, we should have the comfort of selecting an alternative government. We lack that and worse, the very hard-liners that undermined democratic institutions are now the frontmen for the opposition.
While I have discussed in length about Mahathir, his son Mukhriz is no different. He was one of the first to call for Abdullah's resignation following the 2008 election. There's also former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who once said he is Malay first.
Democratisation is simply a loosening of authoritarian restrictions so that the political opposition can compete on a nearly level playing field without fear of targeted repression or restrictions.
This entails broader freedom to organise and express alternative views in public spaces, but it does not require the full battery of human-rights protections that international critics of these regimes prioritise.
Malaysia's regime has been called many things: quasi-democracy, competitive authoritarian, electoral authoritarian, hybrid. The right question to ask is: what kind of a regime is best suited for democratisation.
Think about that when you head to the polls and think about that moderate or soft-liner that you should vote. Maybe also think twice when you rant against that moderate or soft-liner that you think you put in power and which coalition has a higher ratio of soft-liners to hard-liners.
Because regime change or even political reform cannot simply be won by silly slogans as well as street protests. Like it or not, it requires some flexibility from the ruling coalition.
On that note, what are the chances of us democratising further if the opposition – and an inexperienced one at that – came to power after the 14th general election?
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