Data shows youth support for Pakatan sliding as economic confidence slips

A Pakatan Harapan flag is seen along Jalan Sg Chua ahead of the Balakong by-election August 23, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
A Pakatan Harapan flag is seen along Jalan Sg Chua ahead of the Balakong by-election August 23, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition is fast losing support from Malaysians in their 20s less than a year after forming government, the latest study by market research firm Kajidata Research Sdn Bhd showed.

Kajidata, which tracked the political leanings of 9,071 Malaysians aged 21 years old and above from before GE14 in May showed overall satisfaction for PH had slipped by 16.4 points in December, with the biggest fall from youths in the 20 to 29 age bracket at 20.6 points.

According to Kajidata, the receding support was in tandem with declining economic confidence among Malaysians towards the ruling PH, from a score of 39.3 points recorded during the general elections in May last year to 32.8 just eight months later in December.

“Though the decline in economic confidence was true for all age groups, the large drop within the youth bracket suggests that they may have become disillusioned with Pakatan Harapan’s management of the national economy,” Kajidata said in a report accompanying the study results.

Data from the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) Economic Confidence Score showed the biggest drop in support to be from those in the 20 to 29 age bracket, at 13.7 points.

“Our indicators now reveal that the youth, whom before GE14 were the most likely to support Pakatan Harapan have now become the group that is most likely to oppose it.

“The younger generation is now the least satisfied with Pakatan Harapan in addition to having the lowest economic confidence,” Kajidata added.

The research firm cited PH’s reversals on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) issue, notably the delayed repayments to graduates as an example of youth discontent.

However, it also said further study is needed to find out how much policy U-turns contributed to the decline in support for PH or if there were other factors at work.

In contrast, Kajidata said young Malaysians now have a more positive perception of the Opposition Barisan Nasional. It noted the trend change beginning last September.

Kajidata said PH needs to address this decline in youth support before the next general election due in 2022 as young voters are among the biggest fence sitters who have yet to solidify their political allegiances.

“According to various running indicators from as far back as 2015, it was clear to Kajidata that support for Pakatan Harapan, particularly amongst the youth has declined significantly since the coalition’s victory on 9th May 2018.

“It is critical for Pakatan Harapan to address the drop in the youth’s support as this loss is not countervailed by an increase in support of undecided voters or older voters who are more likely to remain with Barisan Nasional.

“It is imperative that Pakatan Harapan understand in detail why the youth have turned away from the coalition and what can be done to win them back,” Kajidata said.

Kajidata’s study was conducted through computer aided telephone interviews across the 222 parliamentary constituencies including in Sabah and Sarawak, which was carried out from January 1 to December 1, 2018.

The respondents were represented of different races in each state based on the actual population of voters in Malaysia.