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‘Generation Y’ voters may decide the outcome of Malaysia's 13th GE

The Y factor: (From left) Young voters Nik Michael Imran, 22, Amos Lim Sze Mun, 21, Al Yashir Yahaya, 23, Farahnur Ayu Aminuddin, 23, Tanarohini Jayabalan, 23, and Jasdeep Singh Bhullar, 23, checking their voter status online. (Photo by NORAFIFI EHSAN/ The Star)

Publication Date : 09-06-2012

 

Four out of every 10 newly registered voters are under the “Generation Y” category who may decide the outcome of the 13th general election.

With this in mind, both the Barisan Nasional and the Opposition are going all-out to woo this almost inscrutable voters.

Of the 12,912,590 registered voters in the latest gazetted electoral roll, 5,175,096 or 40 per cent are between 21 and 39 years old.

“Generation Y” defines those in the tech-savvy age group, born between the 1980s and 2000.

They are often described as “independent-minded and their political loyalties are not fixed” due to their wider access to information.

“Most are fence-sitters who will wait until the end,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, who conducted a survey of 1,500 young voters recently.

“Both sides of the political divide will have to work really hard until the 11th hour to persuade these young voters.”

Voters above the age of 40, who make up 60 per cent of the electorate, “are more or less fixed supporters of either BN or the Opposition with both sides having an almost equal share of support,” said Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer Assoc Prof Shaharuddin Badaruddin.

He said the younger voters, who made up the bulk of the “fence-sitters”, could tilt the outcome of polls either way.

Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar concurred: “They don't just follow what others say. If one looks from this perspective, then the young voters may be the deciders, although no one can confidently say for sure.”

Since 2008, both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat have had their eyes on the “Generation Y” voters.

However, neither side has been able to accurately predict their voting behaviour.

“All our strategies and policies since 2008 have been targeted towards the younger voters,” said BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

“We have known since then that a big slice of the voters in the next election will be in this group,” he added.

He said the number of “fence-sitters” among younger voters remained high at about 65 per cent, adding that the figure was expected to drop gradually as polling day nears.

The “Generation Y” vote is also a priority for the Pakatan.

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hasan said 40 per cent of the party candidates would be between 30 and 45 years old as part of its efforts to court young voters.

“Young voters are mostly non-partisan, so we still have to reach out to them and convince them that we are the ones who can best represent them,” he said.

 

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