Singapore’s largest party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), has secured its 15th consecutive term in government since 1959 after general election results were announced early Saturday. However, the party has seen poor seat performance and a significant decline in popularity, relative to previous elections.
Operating under the first-past-the-post electoral system, the PAP won 83 of the 93 (89%) vacant parliamentary seats and a 61.2% share of the popular vote. However, by local standards, this was one of the worst performances in the party’s long-held history of success, falling from 93% seat occupancy and 70% of the popular vote in the last general election in 2015.
Industry experts speaking to South China Morning Post speculate that the underwhelming results can be attributed to the public dissatisfaction of the government’s handling of the pandemic. With over 45,000 reported cases, the virus has battered the country’s trade-reliant economy, which saw the Ministry of Trade and Industry downgrading this year’s forecasted GDP growth from 7% to 4% in late May. Much of the PAP’s campaign focused on related concerns, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong vowing to overcome the pandemic and securing “a brighter future for ourselves and our children”.
Addressing the low margins of support, PM Lee spoke at a press conference on Saturday, identifying “a clear desire for a diversity of voice in Parliament” as the crux of election results. PAP Anchor Minister Mr Iswaran further noted, “There are obviously multiple factors at play, and it’s very hard to make specific attributions”.
PM Lee also formally appointed opposing Workers Party (WP) leader, Pritam Singh, to ‘Leader of the Opposition’, creating an official position for the leader of the largest opposition party, which currently holds 10 seats in Parliament. This marks a historic shift in Singaporean politics, allowing Singh to assume office in the event that the current government resigns. Singh responded humbly that he “will endeavour to ensure that The Workers’ Party under my leadership will remain loyal to Singapore and all Singaporeans”.