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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Singapore General Elections 2011 - debriefing

On a warm Saturday, 7 May 2011, Singaporeans went to the polls to elect new Members of Parliament. The result of this five-year democratic cycle was that the incumbent, the People's Action Party (PAP), was returned to power with 60.1% of the vote, while also increasing the number of opposition members in the highest legislative body in the nation.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said many times that this was a watershed election because Singaporeans were choosing their leaders of tomorrow. (Aside: isn't any election supposed to be about that anyway?) When he had uttered those words, he had implied that this was a chance for the electorate to give the PAP the mandate needed to continue governing for another five years.

However, this turned out to be a watershed election for other reasons, many of which turned out to be firsts for Singapore.

  • Almost all of the 87 seats in Parliament were contested, the first time that there was such widespread electoral competition since independence in 1965.
  • A larger number of younger, first-time voters. Dubbed the post-1975 generation, they made up about one-third of the electorate.
  • Perhaps reflecting the younger demographic, there were more candidates who were below 30 years old, compared to past elections.
  • Use of the Internet, in particular, social media saw the increase and ease of communication among voters, which had immediate impact on the ongoing campaigns by the political parties.
And when the results were finally announced:
  • An opposition party, the Workers' Party (WP), had successfully won a group representation constituency (GRC), a scheme that had been introduced in 1988.
  • The loss of a key Cabinet minister, George Yeo.
  • The defeat of Singapore's longest serving opposition Member of Parliament, Chiam See Tong.
I'm sure that there will be a lot of analysis and speculation in the following days from the PAP, mainstream media and armchair bloggers. As an armchair blogger myself, I hope to be able to share my two cents' worth in upcoming posts.

Stay tuned!

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