Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Singapore’s Leftward Shift Behind Ruling Party’s Stunning Electoral Comeback

In the run-up to Singapore’s recent general elections, the victory of the People’s Action Party (PAP) – which has presided over transformational social and economic development throughout its continuous five-decade rule – was a forgone conclusion. The question on people’s minds was rather, to what extent could opposition parties dent the ruling party’s dominance and gain a foothold in Parliament?

Tens of thousands attended rallies organized by opposition parties during the campaign period, leading many to believe that opposition candidates would steadily gain more ground after the ruling PAP suffered its worst electoral performance in history during the last election cycle in 2011. Contrary to predictions of a watershed election, the PAP secured huge margins, claiming nearly 70 percent of the popular vote in a spectacular rebound.

2015’s elections were presented as an “unprecedented” challenge to Singapore’s ruling party in the international media. On the ground, the sense of a growing momentum for left-leaning opposition parties like the Worker’s Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and other largely untested parties could be felt. Even government-friendly state media devoted front page coverage to well-attended opposition rallies.

Despite projections and popular sentiments that suggested a real possibility for opposition parties to capture a larger share of the vote, opposition parties instead saw their share of the vote plummet in 2015 by as much as 16 percent from 2011, with no headway made. How then, in the current political landscape, should the PAP’s stunning resurgence be accounted for?

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at