“THIS GENERAL election will be like no other that we have experienced,” Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, declared this week, announcing
“THIS GENERAL election will be like no other that we have experienced,” Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, declared this week, announcing that the city-state would go to the polls on July 10th. Procedures may be a little different from usual, given the continuing outbreak of covid-19. But the outcome will be just like the previous 12 national elections: the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) will romp home with a huge majority of seats.
The PAP is a slick political machine which has held power since before independence in 1965. Its share of the popular vote has never dipped below 60%. Even at its lowest ebb, in 2011, the party retained 93% of the elected seats in Parliament. Last time around, in 2015, it won almost 70% of the popular vote, perhaps boosted by the death earlier that year of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister and the incumbent’s father.
The PAP’s popularity stems in large part from its competence. It has presided over decades of rapid economic growth, with little of the corruption that plagues neighbouring countries. But the party is too thorough to leave its prospects up to voters. It has devised an electoral system that makes life difficult for its opponents. In most constituencies a party must field a slate of four or five candidates to compete, with the winning slate taking all the seats. The need in such seats to find multiple…