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The Challenge to Electoral Authoritarianism and the Ephemeral Value of Political Capital in Malaysia

Malaysia has long been one of the most prominent countries ruled by electoral authoritarianism, a system in which elections are held with certain knowledge that one specific party or coalition will win. In the case of Malaysia, this has been the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, led by United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). However, in 2008, BN experienced the worst result in its history. While BN managed to win a majority of the parliamentary seats, it was clear that the voters in Malaysia were showing their dissatisfaction with the long-standing incumbent coalition.
A long period of electoral authoritarianism has resulted in very strong ties between a select number of companies and leading politicians. While previous studies shed light on the importance of political relationships in Malaysia, no one has analyzed the effects of the 2008 election results on such political patronage. We aim to do this by first identifying firms’ political connections and then conduct empirical tests on firm-level effects.
Project manager: Dr. Anders C. Johansson
Funding: Ragnar Söderberg's Foundation

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