Class, gender divide seen in GE13 voting trends, says Merdeka Center – By Zurairi AR

Yahoo! News Malaysia | PETALING JAYA, 16-May-2013 — Women and poorer Malaysians voted for Barisan Nasional (BN) while men and the middle- and upper-class voters leaned towards Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties in Election 2013.

Ibrahim Suffian, the director of independent pollster Merdeka Center, also said today that 55 per cent of respondents in a recent survey stated that they depended on the Internet and social media as their main source of political information.

“We see women generally leaned towards BN compared to men who leaned towards PR,” Ibrahim(picture) said at a forum organised by Universiti Malaya Centre of Democracy and Election (UMCEDEL).

“More men browse political websites which discuss politics and current affairs. Women do that less, despite being younger.”

Around a third of Malaysians own smartphones or have access to mobile Internet, and the figure is expected to increase to around two-thirds in the next two years.

Ibrahim also explained that voters were obviously split between different classes, with the working and lower-income classes mostly voting for BN, and the middle and upper classes for PR.

Respondents who viewed BN positively cited development, Malay rights and its track record as reasons for choosing the coalition.

They were mostly made up of rural voters who benefited from handouts such as the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).

Those who viewed BN as negative did so because of its perceived failure in taking care of minority ethnic rights, inter-racial relations and graft.

Meanwhile, PR was viewed positively by those who saw the alliance as a multiracial representation, and felt that it promised a cleaner administration.

Negative views towards PR include a perception of frequent clashes between its three members and their incompatibility.

Pointing towards intra-ethnic differences, Ibrahim suggested that the votes were not split according to races but more towards the different ideologies presented by both BN and PR.

Last week, Merdeka Center had stressed that Election 2013 was not simply a “Chinese tsunami” as urban Malays had also voted for PR.

Analysts have noted that BN’s historic losses in Election 2013 were the result of a middle class and urban exodus from the coalition that further widened the urban-rural rift in the country.