Spotlight on post-Undi 18 as survey finds younger voters unhappy with Harapan

In the last decade, young voters have been credited with the rise of Pakatan Harapan, and its predecessor Pakatan Rakyat, culminating in the coalition sweeping into power in the 2018 general election.

It comes as no surprise then the promise to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, part of Harapan's manifesto, was followed through on July 16 with bipartisan support.

Whether young voters will remain as a source of continued support for Harapan in future general election remains to be seen, but a survey by independent pollsters Merdeka Centre suggests the trends are changing.

According to the survey, which was circulated among Harapan operatives, the coalition's approval rating has stabilised at 41 percent in the last two months, which is slightly better than the 39 percent of voters who are either dissatisfied or angry at the coalition.

However, the data breakdown shows an interesting trend - more younger voters are unhappy with Harapan and conversely, more older voters are happy with the coalition, a trend that was typical of the previous BN ruling coalition.

According to the survey sighted by Malaysiakini, more voters in the age group of 21-30, 31-40 and 41-50 are dissatisfied with Harapan, while more voters in the age group of 51-60 and above 60 are happy with the coalition.

Specifically, in the age group of 21-30, 42 percent are dissatisfied or angry, while 38 percent are happy. In the 31-40 age group, 43 percent are dissatisfied or angry, while 38 percent are happy.

The disparity shrinks in the 41-50 age group where 39 percent are dissatisfied or angry compared to 36 percent who are happy, and this reverses in the age group of 51-60 where 50 percent are happy compared to 34 percent who are dissatisfied or angry.

In the age group of 60 and above, 52 percent are happy compared to 28 percent who are angry or dissatisfied.

The survey was conducted of 961 respondents, aged 21 and above who are eligible voters in peninsular Malaysia, from June 28 to July 1.

The survey has yet to take into account the fact that 18-years-olds can now vote, but the trend of younger voters being more unhappy with Harapan compared to older voters suggest that the coalition cannot take things for granted.

If the election is only called after Parliament expires in 2021, teens who are as young as 14 years old today, would be eligible to vote by then.

Unhappy with Harapan, happy with direction

Despite the unhappiness towards Pakatan Harapan amongst young voters, a majority of them still think the country is moving in the right direction.

Across all age groups, 40 percent of voters believe the country is moving in the right direction compared to 39 percent who disagree.

When broken down, 47 percent of those in the age group of 21-30 believe the country is on the right direction, compared to 37 percent who think otherwise.

However, those who think the country is moving in the wrong direction outweigh those who think the country is on the right track in the age group of 31-40 (35 percent right, 41 percent wrong) and 41-50 (37 percent right, 38 percent wrong).

The numbers are equal for the 51-60 age group (38 percent right, 38 percent wrong), and improves in the above 60 age group (51 percent right, 31 percent wrong).

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