WITH less than 24 hours to polling day on 7 April, campaigning by both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Bukit Selambau was muted. With three simultaneous by-elections taking place, the big names for both coalitions are having to divide their time, with the battle in Bukit Gantang taking the lion’s share of attention.
Devoid of the usual electoral excitement, the sentiment in Bukit Selambau has been difficult to read. PR election volunteers seem uncharacteristically cautious about their chances at winning even though their ceramah have been consistently jam-packed with enthusiastic, multiracial crowds. BN leaders sound confident — in public at least — that the anti-BN tide has turned, and that they will emerge victorious here come 7 April.
According to analysts and observations from the ground, however, it appears as though the PR still has a slight edge over the BN. But how much of an edge this might be, and whether it will be compromised by the presence of a record 13 candidates, is the subject of great speculation.
Perhaps this is merely by-election fatigue setting in — similar observations have been made about crowd sentiment in Bukit Gantang. Or perhaps voters in Bukit Selambau have already made their minds up, and are merely biding their time they get to the ballot box today.