Singapore’s Ruling Party Wins Crisis Election, But Opposition Gains

Singapore’s Ruling Party Wins Crisis Election, But Opposition Gains
Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

What you need to know

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party wins the general election again, continuing its uninterrupted streak. But it was also a massive victory for the opposition Worker's Party, which may hold over 10 percent of the parliament seats for the first time.

Singapore is the first country to successfully hold an election during the pandemic with a historic turnout of 96 percent.

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has won another sweeping victory, securing 83 out of 93 seats. While the PAP won a supermajority, its share of popular vote was almost at a record low of 61 percent.

The opposition Worker’s Party (WP) won 10 seats, a significant improvement from the six it secured in the previous election. This is the first time an opposition party holds over 10 percent of the parliament seats in Singapore.

While Singapore has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Asia with over 45,000 cases, the PAP has retained its dominance. Since the country's independence in 1965, the PAP has won every single election.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsieh Loong, who has been in power since 2014, will be in office for another term.

The PAP won nearly 70 percent of the popular vote in the 2015 election. Before voting, Lee called for a “strong mandate” from Singaporeans for the PAP to lead the country out of the Covid-19 crisis.

Most members of parliament are elected in groups as part of Group Representation Constituencies (GRC). The party that wins a plurality or majority in the GRC wins all of its three to six seats. According to Freedom House, this has historically bolstered the majority of the dominant PAP.

Singapore's elections, according to Freedom House, "are largely free of fraud and other such irregularities," yet are "unfair due to the advantages enjoyed by the incumbent party, including a pro-government media sector, the GRC system, high financial barriers to electoral candidacy, and legal restrictions on free speech."

This election has prompted more discussions on a looming economic recession, freedom of speech, and opposition challenges.

Singapore was praised for its Covid-19 response until clusters of outbreaks exposed the government neglect of the migrant population. Most of the country's cases are within the migrant worker dormitories, where the living conditions are reportedly abysmal.

WP has been calling for positive changes in Singapore not only in "tangible achievements."

"Can positive changes happen in Singapore so that we embrace openness to other views, culture and creativity, transparency, kindness, fairness and happiness?" WP Chairwoman Sylvia Lim said during a party broadcast on July 9.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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