Public Talk: Retaining power through elections: when “democracy” enables autocracy

Can “democracy” enable autocracy? Come listen to an international expert on elections. KL. Sunday 13 July, 2.30 pm. 

Dear friends,

The past two general elections, with two dominant coalitions, have fired the public’s imagination about what is a truly democratic process for electing a government.

An expert on the subject, Professor Sarah Birch of the University of Glasgow, is passing through Malaysia next week. She has agreed to give a talk titled:

Retaining power through elections: when “democracy” enables autocracy

The talk by Dr Birch, Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Glasgow, will help all of us answer more clearly the questions that are so often in our conversations, e.g.: 

  • How do governments retain power?
  • What kind of electoral system is preferred by those who hold power?
  • What insights could help Malaysians explain how the ruling coalition retained power in 1990, 1999, 2008 and 2013?
  • Why is it important for the electorate to be able to replace those who are in power?
  • Of the different types of electoral systems which are practised, which seems best-suited to aspirations for effective representation?
  • What strategies have been used to effect a change in the electoral system?
  • What are the key success factors?


Who is Professor Birch?


Before joining the University of Glasgow in August 2013, Dr Birch taught at the University of Essex for 17 years. For 10 years (2002-2011) she was also co-editor of the British Journal of Political Science. She has three principal research interests: electoral malpractice, ethical conduct in public life and environmental politics.

Over the course of the past 10 years, her main research programme has been the comparative study of electoral malpractice. In addition to her academic work, Professor Birch has also taken part in electoral assistance and training activities around the world, including projects for the OSCE, the UNDP, International IDEA, USAID and the UK Electoral Commission.



Lecture by Dr Birch, followed by questions and comments from the floor moderated by Dr Wong Chin Huat, Fellow, Penang Institute.


When and where?

Date: Sunday, 13 July 2013

Time: 2.30pm–4.30pm

Venue: Auditorium, Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall, 1 Jalan Maharajalela, 50150 Kuala Lumpur



  • Proham (Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, Malaysia)
  • BERSIH 2.0 (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections)
  • Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.



Please email [email protected] with your name, organisation and designation. You may also indicate “concerned citizen.”