Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong wins new mandate, but opposition gains ground

World | 11 Jul 2020 11:16 am

Singapore's ruling People’s Action Party has clinched 61.24 percent of the votes in this year’s general election, but a swing to the opposition saw the Workers’ Party (WP) make inroads into Parliament by claiming its second Group Representation Constituency in polls held amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNA reports.

The ruling party won 83 seats out of an available 93. The victory saw the PAP’s vote share slide by close to nine percentage points from the last election, where it garnered 69.9 percent of the votes. 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged that despite winning the mandate, the percentage of the popular vote was not as high as he had hoped for.

“Nevertheless, the results reflect broad-based support for the PAP,” Mr Lee said at a press conference marking the end of the election. “Singaporeans understand what is at stake and why we must come together to uphold our national interests.”

“I will use this mandate responsibly to deal with COVID-19 and the economic downturn to take us through the crisis safely and beyond," he added.

In the 2015 General Election, the PAP secured 83 seats out of 89 seats in 29 constituencies. 

With the WP’s victory in the newly formed four-member Sengkang GRC, this election marks the first time that an opposition party will hold two GRCs since the GRC scheme came into effect in 1988.

With 52.13 percent of the votes, the Sengkang team comprising Jamus Lim, Raeesah Khan, He Ting Ru and Louis Chua edged out the PAP’s team that included labour chief Ng Chee Meng, political office-holders Lam Pin Min and Amrin Amin as well as lawyer Raymond Lye, who is a new face this election. 

The WP also retained the five-member Aljunied GRC - where it increased its vote share by nine percentage points - and Hougang Single-Member Constituency (SMC).

This year’s election was also contested by the newly formed Progress Singapore Party (PSP) led by former PAP Member of Parliament (MP) Tan Cheng Bock, who set up the party last year. The party contested 24 seats in four GRCs and five SMCs, the most among all the opposition parties.

In one of the closest battles of the night, Dr Tan’s team finished with 48.31 per cent of the votes in West Coast GRC, just 3.38 percentage points behind the PAP. In 2015, the PAP team there won 78.57 per cent of the votes against the Reform Party (RP). 

For the second time in Singapore’s history, all seats were contested, with two constituencies - Pioneer SMC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC - seeing three-cornered fights. Altogether, there were 10 opposition parties and one independent candidate who vied for a spot in Parliament.

A total of 2,535,565 votes, including rejected votes, were cast in what was the country’s 13th election since independence. This made up 95.63 per cent of the 2,651,435 registered electors, the largest turnout since 1997.

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