As the world watched Singapore’s 2020 general elections, the first national election held in South-East Asia during the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, called for a show of support from all Singaporeans by giving him a “strong mandate”.
Despite this, our wave analysis of the sovereign city state’s historical election results paints a grim picture for the ruling People’s Action Party. This chart highlights the lower highs and lower lows in percentage points dating back to Singapore’s first election as an independent nation in 1968, trending down the path of a gradual decline in the popularity of the governing party which has to date mantained a majority two-thirds of seats in parliament.
This 2020 elections, the opposition Worker’s Party of Singapore secured an additional GRC (that of Sengkang), gained an increase in popular votes in their strongholds of Aljunied GRC (up by 10%) and Hougang GRC (up by over 4%), and increased their presence in parliament with four seats added to the six seats they retained. As a result, party leader Pritam Singh will be officially named ‘opposition leader’ in an unprecedented move in Singapore.
In Lee Hsien Loong’s Ang Mo Kio GRC, the opposition Reform Party headed by Kenneth Jeyaretnam (son of J.B. Jeyaretnam) gained an increase of almost 7% in votes over the reigning PM – quite a feat while being able to only campaign online while on stay-at-home notice. In four other constituencies (Bukit Panjang, East Coast, Marymount and West Coast) totalling over 11% of Singaporean voters, an additional swing of 3-5% would have given the opposition parties a win.
Malaysia’s University of Nottingham’s Bridget Welsh shared her thoughts on how “…they called (the elections) early in a pandemic mistakenly thinking the crisis would help them.”. Instead, they suffered their weakest performance in over 50 years in office, dropping to 61.2% of votes.
As almost one in two Singaporeans used their vote as a display of approval for opposition policies and ethos, this may be the wake-up call (some might say) the dictatorial government may need. It seems an emerging generation Z voters have shown their hand in wanting more rights, freedom of speech, a wider and freer press, and improved job prospects, especially for PMETs.
As this group of voters gets larger with time, the ‘death cross’ looms, posing a loosening grip of the PAP’s domination on politics in Singapura.
(Information compiled from historical data obatined from Singapore’s Elections Department)