Malaysian Ringgit likely to face volatility ahead owing to political uncertainty, says Commerzbank
Source: FxWire Pro - Commentary / 16 Apr 2018 09:27:02 Europe/London
The Malaysian ringgit is expected to face volatility in the months ahead, owing to political uncertainties ahead of the country’s May 9 general election, the 14th of its kind. The incumbent Barisan National (BN) coalition seeking to extend its 60 years of unbroken rule since independence in 1957, according to the latest research report from Commerzbank.
Nomination day for candidates is on April 28 and there will only be 11 days of campaigning instead of 15 as in 2013. Prime Minister Najib will go head-to-head with the country’s former and longest-serving premier of 22 years, the 92-year old and spritely Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. In the 2013 general election, BN won 133 seats or 60 percent of the 222-seat parliament but it lost the popular vote for the first time since 1969, at just 46.5 percent vs 53.5 percent for the opposition.
The key issues in the upcoming election will once again be on the health of the economy and the scandal that has plagued PM Najib in relation to the quasi-sovereign wealth fund. The economy is performing well, with 5.4 percent projected this year from 5.9 percent in 2017, riding on the back of the global upswing. This should work in favor of the government.
However, this year’s election could be a watershed event as the government has a battle on its hands to fend off voter unhappiness and disillusionment over the multi-billion USD scandal. The opposition is hoping to benefit from this, under the Pakatan Harapan coalition. Dr. Mahathir is spearheading the campaign but will only be the temporary leader and interim PM if they win until its leader Anwar Ibrahim is released from jail or gets a royal pardon.
"At this stage, our base case is for the incumbent to retain power but possibly with an even slimmer majority. The risk of a hung parliament should not be dismissed. If BN wins, we could see a relief rally in MYR but if we get a hung parliament, MYR could give up most of this year’s gains of over 4.5 percent vs USD. If the opposition wins, investors are likely to be wary of the uncertain road ahead and we could see a weaker MYR," the report added.
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