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Malaysia’s 2008 General Election – Transition from Single-party Dominance?


  • William Case



Leading theories of transitions from single-party dominant systems begin with economic crisis, the party’s loss of patronage resources, and elite-level defections. The multiparty elections that are then held exert no independent effect, but instead register neutrally the party’s decline and the democratization of politics. This paper, however, shifts attention from the dominant party to citizens and elections in non-crisis conditions. It argues that on key dimensions citizens assess the dominant party’s legitimacy or worthiness of support. Further, where they grow critical of its policy outputs, they scrutinize more closely its conformity to procedures. And as they anticipate that their voting preferences will be thwarted by electoral manipulations, they vote in protest, perhaps producing a “liberalizing electoral outcome.†Elections, then, do not simply indicate the dominant party’s decline. By deepening alienation, they help citizens to cause it. Analysis is set in Malaysia, long an exemplar of single-party dominance, but recently a case in which the government was dealt a striking electoral setback.

Suggested Citation

  • William Case, 2010. "Malaysia’s 2008 General Election – Transition from Single-party Dominance?," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 29(2), pages 121-156.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:121-156

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas H. Brooks & Jayant Menon, 2008. "Infrastructure and Trade in Asia: An Overview," Chapters,in: Infrastructure and Trade in Asia, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Ishida, Masami, 2005. "Effectiveness and Challenges of Three Economic Corridors of the Greater Mekong Sub-region," IDE Discussion Papers 35, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    3. H. Brooks, Douglas & F. Stone, Susan, 2010. "Infrastructure and Trade Facilitation in Asian APEC," Asian Development Review, Asian Development Bank, vol. 27(1), pages 135-159.
    4. Susan Stone & Anna Strutt, 2010. "Transport Infrastructure and Trade Facilitation in the Greater Mekong Subregion," Chapters,in: Trade Facilitation and Regional Cooperation in Asia, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Roland-Holst, David & Verbiest, Jean-Pierre & Zhai, Fan, 2005. "Growth and Trade Horizons for Asia: Long-term Forecasts for Regional Integration," Asian Development Review, Asian Development Bank, vol. 22(2), pages 76-107.
    6. repec:idb:brikps:42278 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, 2006. "A History of Empirical Literature on the Relationship Between Trade and Growth," Mondes en développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 135(3), pages 63-77.
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