Saturday, September 12, 2015

GE2015: the more things change, the more they remain the same?

In the run-up to Singapore's general election 2015, held on Sept 11, and in which all 89 wards were contested, many pundits saw hope for an opposition breakthrough -- that is, an increased presence in the PAP-dominated Parliament. On the other hand, as polling day neared, the "fear factor" of a freak election result in which the PAP found itself booted out of power gained traction, with no PAP candidate dismissing that possibility -- even though there was no real chance of that happening (neither did the mainstream media rebut this notion).

In the end, as far as seats won were concerned, the result on paper was close to status quo: the PAP retained all its 2011 seats plus the two new wards while the Workers' Party narrowly kept its Aljuneid GRC, as well as its Hougang single-member constituency (SMC). The WP lost its Punggol East SMC to the PAP, again narrowly. No other opposition party won any seat. Arising from this, one observation is that the already glacial movement towards a two-party political system has been stymied, although not necessarily irreversibly.

Just as significantly, there was a national electoral swing -- just under 10 per cent -- in favour of the PAP. There are many reasons for this and I hope to see a convincing analysis of this seemingly unexpected occurrence eventuate. The complicated character of the Singaporean voter will need to be truly understood (a daunting task but one suspects the PAP government -- leveraging on the full complement of resources at its disposal and its very clever tweaking at each election of the electoral boundaries -- already has the most-informed notions!).

Until then, Cherian George's blog commentary on this development being one for the PAP to seize to reform itself is an intriguing one. Here it is:

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