The votes have been casted and tallied. Here’s how Singapore’s fate lies until the next election.
When NUS Department of Political Science, Deputy Head of Department Professor Bilveer Singh predicted that the People’s Action Party (PAP) would win by a landslide, he missed the mark. Two words: Narrow margins. But before we get into the details, let’s look at how the elections played out this year.
2020 was history in the making
This election saw the longest list of political parties, and for the second time since Singapore’s history, all 93 parliamentary seats were contested. And there were the unique circumstances. Covid-19 eliminated physical rallies. These, no matter the public’s political stance, have historically been attended by large crowds curious on hearing the speeches and manifestos of the opposition parties.
Despite the lack of physical rallies, the campaigning was far from placid. In the absence of traditional campaigning, there were live debates and daily broadcasts. And unlike previous elections, voters had no excuses to be ill-informed with the wealth of information available to read non-biased news. Social media, in particular, was aflame with infographics. Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMAs) were invoked and police reports were filed with allegations of a candidate promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race.
This year we also saw some of the most headline-making opposition candidates. Tan Cheng Bock of Progress Singapore Party (PSP) won the hearts of the millennials and Gen Z with his ‘hypebeast’ videos. Lee Hsien Loong’s brother Lee Hsien Yang joined PSP to campaign, but not to contest. The Worker’s Party’s crowd favourite Jamus Lim wowed with his intelligence and eloquence at the debate, while Raeesah Khan started an entire movement called #IStandWithRaeesah. The ruling party also made a few viral gaffes, while a candidate withdrew his candidacy based on allegations of his past behaviour.
The big battles
The People’s Action Party (PAP) took 93 seats while The Worker’s Party (WP) won 10, a record high for the opposition. They put up a strong fight, and it showed. The PAP’s popular vote clinched 61.24 percent. In comparison, in 2015, the party secured a vote share of 69.9 percent.
There were close battles. In Bukit Panjang SMC, a contest between PAP’s Liang Eng Hwa and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Professor Paul Tambyah, the ruling party scored a vote share of 53.74 percent leaving Tambyah with a remaining 46.26 percent.
In Bukit Batok SMC, Murali Pillai and SDP chief Chee Soon Juan faced off more once. PAP secured 54.8 percent of votes with SDP scoring 45.2 percent. When compared to the previous by-election, this is a win for SDP’s voters as the margin of victory dropped from 22.4 percent to 9.6.
In West Coast GRC, PSP walked away with 48.31 percent of votes; 3.38 percentage points behind the PAP. In the hotly contested East Coast GRC, the PAP won 53.41 percent of votes while WP clinched 46.59 percent of the votes cast.
With larger margins in this election, WP retained Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) at 59.93 percent vote share and Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC) at 61.19% percent. It also claimed the new Sengkang GRC with a vote share of 52.13 percent. While WP chief Pritam Singh thanked his voters, he cautioned that he will be reminding the party’s winning candidates to “keep their feet firmly grounded and remember why they’re doing what they’re doing”.
“We have a clear mandate but the percentage of the popular vote is not as high as I had hoped for,” concluded Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a wrap-up conference. “I will use this mandate responsibly to deal with Covid-19, and the economic downturn, and to take us safely through the crisis and beyond,” he assured.
For the full results, head to the Elections Department Singapore website.