Elections in Singapore
||This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (August 2011)|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
According to the constitution of Singapore general elections must be conducted within 5 years of the first sitting of parliament. Presidential elections are conducted every 6 years.
The parliament of Singapore is unicameral with 87 seats. Since the legislative assembly election in 1959, the government of Singapore has always been formed by the People's Action Party with an overwhelming majority, and in several elections the only party elected.
- 1 Parliamentary elections
- 2 Presidential elections
- 3 Possible reasons for high walkover rates
- 4 Referendums
- 5 Elections
- 6 Past elections
- 7 Other elections
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
From Singapore's independence in 1965 to 1981, the People's Action Party won every single seat in every election held, forming a parliament with no elected opposition MP for almost two decades.
In 1984, opposition politicians secured an elected seat in parliament for the first time in a general election. 2 seats out of 74 seats went to opposition politicians. In 1988, the opposition won 1 seat out of 77 seats. In 1991, the opposition won 4 seats out of 81 seats. In 1997, 2001 and 2006, the opposition secured 2 seats for each respective election.
Throughout the history of the Republic of Singapore, only 12 different opposition politicians have ever been elected into parliament. They are as listed in the following tables:
Past Elected Opposition Parliamentarians
|Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam||Workers' Party||1981–1986||Anson SMC|
|Chiam See Tong|| Singapore Democratic Party
Singapore People's Party
|1984 – 1996
1997 – 2011
|Potong Pasir SMC|
|Ling How Doong||Singapore Democratic Party||1991–1997||Bukit Gombak SMC|
|Cheo Chai Chen||Singapore Democratic Party||1991–1997||Nee Soon Central SMC|
|Yaw Shin Leong||Workers' Party||2011–2012||Hougang SMC|
Current Elected Opposition Parliamentarians
|Low Thia Khiang||Workers' Party||1991 – incumbent||Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC|
|Lim Swee Lian Sylvia||Workers' Party||2011 – incumbent||Aljunied GRC|
|Chen Show Mao||Workers' Party||2011 – incumbent||Aljunied GRC|
|Pritam Singh||Workers' Party||2011 – incumbent||Aljunied GRC|
|Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap||Workers' Party||2011 – incumbent||Aljunied GRC|
|Png Eng Huat||Workers' Party||2012 – incumbent||Hougang SMC|
|Lee Li Lian||Workers' Party||2013 – incumbent||Punggol East SMC|
The campaigning time for elections in Singapore is very short. The legal minimum campaign time, from when the election is announced to polling day, is nine days. This minimum campaigning time is generally used in Singaporean elections. The announcement of the election follows the announcement of new constituency boundaries.
Walkover rates for parliamentary elections are extremely high when compared to international norms. Since 1991, walkover rates have hovered around 50% for each election. This means that around 50% of the seats of each election are uncontested and the People's Action Party wins them by default without constituents having to cast a single vote. Even before the votes are counted, the PAP has more or less won the election due to extremely high walkover rates.
The electoral system reduces the chances of opposition representation in parliament with a "winner takes all" system for Group Representation Constituencies. However, Freedom House has noted that elections in Singapore are technically free of electoral fraud.
Presidential elections have been held since 1993. Under the "Presidential Elections Act", to run for president, one must obtain a "certificate of eligibility" from the Presidential Elections Committee. To obtain this certificate, one must be:
1. a person of integrity, good character and reputation; and
2. has held for at least 3 years a cabinet ministerial post, headed a statutory board, or been a CEO of a company incorporated in Singapore worth over $100 million in paid-up capital, or has equivalent management experience.
Because of the high requirements needed to run for presidential elections, many presidential elections have been uncontested. All presidential elections have been walkovers except for the first one, held in 1993 which was contested by two people, and the 2011 one, contested by four people. The first presidential election was won by Ong Teng Cheong, a former member of the PAP. Subsequent presidential elections in 1999 and 2005 have been won by S. R. Nathan through walkovers.
The 2011 presidential election was contested by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian. All candidates except Tan Jee Say were former members of the PAP. The election was won by Tony Tan with a margin of 0.34% over Tan Cheng Bock.
Possible reasons for high walkover rates
Two principal reasons have been suggested for the large number of uncontested elections in Singapore.
Populace is contented with the government
This is due to the effectiveness of the Singapore government in providing a high standard of living and low unemployment rate in Singapore, as well as the lack of corruption (Singapore is ranked among the "least corrupt" by the Corruption Perceptions Index). However, this does not explain why other comparable countries have significant opposition parties.
The second possibility is that the Singapore populace is enveloped in a climate of fear, hence they do not dare to run for elections. Dr Catherine Lim has spoken about this "climate of fear" many times. She argues that a climate of fear hurts Singapore.
In Singapore, opposition politicians and trade unionists were detained in prison without trial before in the 1960s and early 1970s. Many such as Lim Chin Siong, Said Zahari and Lim Hock Siew were accused by the government of being involved in subversive communist struggles. Among them, Chia Thye Poh was detained the longest; he was detained for 23 years without any trial.
In 1988, Francis Seow, former solicitor general of Singapore and opposition politician, was also detained without trial. He was later charged with tax evasion but he fled overseas and sought asylum successfully in the US. He was convicted of tax evasion in absentia.
Prominent opposition politicians such as Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan have also been sued for defamation by government politicians under Singapore's strict libel laws. They were both bankrupted and made to pay a few hundred thousand dollars in compensation.
Tang Liang Hong, another opposition politician and a former solicitor, was also sued for defamation by government politicians in 1997. He was convicted of defamation and ended up bankrupt. He subsequently left Singapore for Australia. In the 1990s, another Worker Party member Gopalan Nair left Singapore and obtained asylum successfully in the USA.
In recent years, Chee Soon Juan and his party members have been jailed for assembling and speaking in public without a police permit. Police permits are required for public speeches and assemblies of even a single person. Chee was jailed in 2010 again for gathering with party members to distribute his party's flyers without a police permit.
A referendum may also be held for important national issues, although it has been held only once in Singapore's political history for the 1962 merger referendum. Calls for a national referendum has been made since then, including the issue over the building of casinos in Singapore.
2011 presidential election
|Candidate||Symbol & party||Results|
|Tony Tan Keng Yam||Nonpartisan||745,693||35.20|
|Tan Cheng Bock||Nonpartisan||738,311||34.85|
|Tan Jee Say||Nonpartisan||530,441||25.04|
|(Loses deposit) Tan Kin Lian||Nonpartisan||104,095||4.91|
|Total vote cast||2,156,389||100.00|
|Electorate / turnout rate||2,274,773||94.80|
2011 general election
|Parties and alliances||Leader||Contested seats||Seats won||Popular vote||% of valid votes||+/-||% of valid votes in contested wards||+/-|
|People's Action Party||Lee Hsien Loong||87||81†||1,212,154||60.14||6.46||60.14||6.46|
|Workers' Party||Low Thia Khiang||23||6||258,510||12.83||3.51||46.58||8.15|
|National Solidarity Party||Goh Meng Seng||24||0||242,682||12.04||0.95*||39.25||6.37*|
|Singapore Democratic Party||Chee Soon Juan||11||0||97,369||4.83||0.76||36.76||13.53|
|Reform Party||Kenneth Jeyaretnam||11||0||86,294||4.28||New party||31.78||New party|
|Singapore People's Party||Chiam See Tong||7||0||62,639||3.11||9.88*||41.42||8.90*|
|Singapore Democratic Alliance||Desmond Lim||7||0||55,988||2.78||10.21||30.06||2.46|
|Did not vote (including walk-overs)||292,913||12.46|
|Total voting electorate||2,350,873||100.0|
|† Includes uncontested victories.
* Formerly a constituent party of Singapore Democratic Alliance. Swings reflected are from the SDA's 2006 vote share.
2006 general election
|Parties and alliances||Leader||Contested
|Seats won||Popular vote||%||+/-|
|People's Action Party||Lee Hsien Loong||84||82†||748,130||66.60||-8.69|
|Workers' Party||Low Thia Khiang||20||1||183,578||16.34||+13.30|
|Singapore Democratic Alliance||Chiam See Tong||20||1||145,628||12.96||+0.96|
|Singapore Democratic Party||Chee Soon Juan||7||0||45,937||4.09||-4.04|
|Did not vote||72,884||5.96|
|Total voting electorate||1,222,884||100.00|
|† includes uncontested victories|
2005 presidential election
The Singapore presidential election of 2005 was to be held on 27 August 2005 to elect the president of Singapore. Since on 13 August 2005, the Presidential Elections Committee announced that Sellapan Ramanathan was the only candidate that had received the certificate of eligibility, he was named the next president without election.
|S. R. Nathan||Without ballot|
More info: Singapore presidential election, 2005.
Legislative Council elections
Legislative Assembly elections
- 1955 general election
- 1957 by-election
- 1959 general election
- 1961 by-election (both April and July)
- 1963 general election
- 1965 by-election
- 1966 by-election (January, March & November)
- 1967 by-election
- 1968 general election
- 1970 by-election
- 1972 general election
- 1976 general election
- 1977 by-election (May & November)
- 1979 by-election
- 1980 general election
- 1981 by-election
- 1984 general election
- 1988 general election
- 1991 general election
- 1992 by-election
- 1997 general election
- 2001 general election
- 2006 general election
- 2011 general election
- 2012 by-election
- 2013 by-election
Municipal Commission elections
City Council elections
Federal and State elections (Malaysia)
- Diane K. Muazy and R. S. Milne, Singapore Under the People's Action Party (London, 2002), p. 143.
- "Map of Freedom in the World: Singapore (2009)". Freedom House. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- Loo, Daryl (14 December 2007). "Climate of fear hurts Singapore: author". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- FreedomHouse. "Freedom of the World 2011 Singapore report". Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- Presidential Elections Results. Singapore Elections Department. 28 August 2011.
- Polling Day Voter Turnout. Singapore Elections Department. 28 August 2011.
- Koh, Hui Theng. "He was outflanked". AsiaOne. Singapore Press. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- Yeo, Lay Hwee (2002), "Electoral Politics in Singapore" (PDF), in Croissant, Aurel; Bruns, Gabriele; John, Marei, eds., Electoral Politics in Southeast and East Asia, Singapore: Office for Regional Cooperation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, pp. 203–232, ISBN 978-981-04-6020-4, archived from the original on 6 March 2007.
|Library resources about
Elections in Singapore
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elections in Singapore.|
- Singapore Elections Department website
- Singapore Elections
- Adam Carr's Election Archive
- National Library of Singapore's resource guide on general elections in Singapore