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Rachagan, S. Sothi (1978) The 1974 parliamentary election in peninsular Malaysia : a study in electoral geography. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Communalism is the dominant factor in Peninsular Malaysia's plural society and influences every aspect of the electoral process. This is the theme of the present work. The objective is not to attempt a study of the 1974 election per se but rather to observe how considerations of race influenced the electoral system, party organization and appeal, and finally the electorate's response. This approach necessarily demands an examination of the formal aspects of the electoral system, not merely to act as the backcloth for examining the election of 1974, but also to determine how it influences and is influenced by considerations of race. The laws and regulations governing elections are studied and their implications to communal representation and organization examined. Particular emphasis is given to the apportionment of seats to the various states, and the delineation of constituencies. The implications of these for communal representation are established. Political party evolution, organization and appeal are visualised as attempts to mobilise support from a divided society, and the operation of three conflicting modes of party organization, i.e. communal parties, multi-communal parties and inter-communal coalitions, are examined. This in turn calls for an examination of the evolution of political parties to note the origin of the three modes of organization. Aspects of communal discrimination by these parties are noted so as to establish the basis of their appeal and to present a theoretical rationale and empirical support for the identification of the several parties as having an appeal to and representing the interests of particular communities. In all, four aspects of discrimination are viewed - membership requirements, party branch establishment, candidate selection and candidate placement. The campaign itself is then seen as a logical outcome of the plural society, the electoral system utilized and the evolution and organization of political parties. The manner in which parties act and interact in the spotlighted arena of the campaign is studied and special attention is paid to the appeal to particular communities as the basis of electoral victory. The results are then assessed as the response of the various communities to these appeals. Success and failure are seen to be the consequences of two factors; the biases introduced by the system and the perception of members of society as to the communal disposition of the parties. Finally, the electoral results are examined to establish the regional variations in support, and to identify the implications for the several parties that contested the election.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis digitised by Proquest LLC
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Copyright Statement: © The author
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 17:39

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