Elections in Singapore
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There are currently two types of elections in Singapore: parliamentary and presidential elections. According to the constitution of Singapore general elections for parliament must be conducted within 3 months of the dissolution of parliament, which has a maximum term of 5 years from the first sitting of parliament, and presidential elections are conducted every 6 years.
The parliament of Singapore is unicameral with 93 seats. Since the legislative assembly election in 1959, the People's Action Party has had an overwhelming majority, and for nearly two decades was the only party to win any seats, and has always formed the government of Singapore.
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 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.
From 1984, opposition politicians began being elected in parliament. 2 seats out of 74 seats went to opposition politicians. Subsequently, in 1988, the People's Action Party won 76 out of 77 seats; in 1991, People's Action Party won 77 seats out of 81 seats. In 1997, 2001 and 2006, 2 opposition candidates were elected during each respective parliamentary election. In 1988, former solicitor general of Singapore and opposition politician Francis Seow was also detained without trial. He was later charged with tax evasion but he fled overseas and sought asylum successfully in the United States of America. He was convicted of tax evasion in absentia. Workers' Party member Gopalan Nair also fled Singapore in the 1990s. Dr Catherine Lim argues that a climate of fear hurts Singapore. Prominent opposition politicians bankrupted and/or jailed in the 20th century also include Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong and Chee Soon Juan.
The campaigning time for elections in Singapore remains very short in the 21st century. 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.
Since the implementation of the Group Representation Constituencies, critics have accused the ruling party of gerrymandering. The electoral system reduces the chances of opposition representation in parliament with a "winner takes all" system. As pointed by NGO group Maruah Singapore, it "creates a barrier to entry" for smaller opposition political parties to contest in the general elections as they may find it hard to field a 5-member team of talents, it also allows for the "free-riding of untested candidates" who get in on the back of stronger team members, such as the PAP candidates brought in to the Tanjong Pagar GRC, which was uncontested for 14 years when helmed by the popular Lee Kuan Yew. The Elections Department, in charge of redrawing electoral boundaries without the need of parliamentary approval, was established as part of the executive branch under the Prime Minister of Singapore, rather than as an independent body. Critics have accused it of giving the ruling party the power to decide polling districts and polling sites through electoral engineering, based on poll results in previous elections. Opposition politician Sylvia Lim has stated in parliament,“The entire electoral boundary re-drawing process is completely shrouded in secrecy, chaired by the Secretary to the Cabinet. There are no public hearings, no minutes of meeting published. The revised boundaries are released weeks or even days before Nomination Day. The report makes no attempt to explain why certain single seats are retained while others are dissolved, nor why new GRCs are created or old ones re-shaped.” Cheng San GRC and Eunos GRC were examples of constituencies dissolved by the Elections Department after opposition parties gained ground in elections, with voters redistributed to other constituencies.
However, Freedom House has noted that elections in Singapore are technically free of electoral fraud. Throughout the history of the Republic of Singapore, hundreds of politicians have been elected in parliament, of whom majority of unique candidates represent the ruling People's Action Party including surviving stalwarts like Lee Khoon Choy. Since 1965, 19 opposition politicians have been elected into parliament, including Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Khiang, Ling How Doong, Cheo Chai Chen, Chen Show Mao, Yaw Shin Leong, Png Eng Huat, Lee Li Lian, and also ten incumbent candidates from the Workers' Party including leader Pritam Singh, chairwoman Sylvia Lim and MP Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap.
2020 general election
|People's Action Party||1,527,491||61.23||83||0|
|Progress Singapore Party||253,996||10.18||0||New|
|Singapore Democratic Party||111,054||4.45||0||0|
|National Solidarity Party||93,653||3.75||0||0|
|Singapore People's Party||37,998||1.52||0||0|
|Singapore Democratic Alliance||37,237||1.49||0||0|
|Red Dot United||31,260||1.25||0||New|
|People's Power Party||7,489||0.30||0||0|
|Source: Singapore Elections|
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:
- He or she must be a citizen of Singapore.
- He or she must not be less than 45 years of age.
- His or her name must appear in a current register of electors.
- He or she must be resident in Singapore at the date of his or her nomination for election and must have been so resident for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than ten years prior to that date.
- He or she must not be subject to any of the following disqualifications:
- (a) being and having been found or declared to be of unsound mind;
- (b) being an undischarged bankrupt;
- (c) holding an office of profit;
- (d) having been nominated for election to Parliament or the office of President or having acted as election agent to a person so nominated, failing to lodge any return of election expenses required by law within the time and in the manner so required;
- (e) having been convicted of an offence by a court of law in Singapore or Malaysia and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than S$2,000 and having not received a free pardon, provided that where the conviction is by a court of law in Malaysia, the person shall not be disqualified unless the offence is also one which, had it been committed in Singapore, would have been punishable by a court of law in Singapore;
- (f) having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of, or exercised rights of citizenship in, a foreign country, or having made a declaration of allegiance to a foreign country;
- (g) being disqualified under any law relating to offences in connection with elections to Parliament or the office of President by reason of having been convicted of such an offence or having in proceedings relating to such an election been proved guilty of an act constituting such an offence.
- He or she must be a person of integrity, good character and reputation.
- He or she must not be a member of any political party on the date of his or her nomination for election.
- He or she must have for a period of not less than three years held office —
- as Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, Attorney-General, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Auditor-General, Accountant-General or Permanent Secretary;
- as chief executive officer (CEO) of a key statutory board or government company: the Central Provident Fund Board, the Housing and Development Board, the Jurong Town Corporation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Temasek Holdings, or GIC Private Limited (formerly known as the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation);
- as the most senior executive of a company with an average of $500 million in shareholders' equity for the most recent three years in that office, and which is profitable after taxes; or
- in any other similar or comparable position of seniority and responsibility in any other organisation or department of equivalent size or complexity in the public or private sector which has given him such experience and ability in administering and managing financial affairs as to enable him to carry out effectively the functions and duties of the office of President.
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, whose closest relation to the party was when he served as then-Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's principal private secretary from 1985 to 1990. The election was won by Tony Tan with a margin of 0.34% over Tan Cheng Bock.
2011 presidential election results
|Tan Cheng Bock||738,311||34.85|
|Tan Jee Say||530,441||25.04|
|Tan Kin Lian||104,095||4.91|
|Source: Singapore Elections|
2017 presidential election
The election in 2017 has also been won by Halimah Yacob through a walkover.
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.
Legislative Council elections
Legislative Assembly elections
As State of Malaysia
- 1966 by-elections (January, March & November)
- 1967 by-elections
- 1968 general election (First general election as an independent nation)
- 1970 by-elections
- 1972 general election
- 1976 general election
- 1977 by-election (May & November)
- 1979 by-elections
- 1980 general election
- 1981 Anson by-election
- 1984 general election
- 1988 general election
- 1991 general election
- 1992 Marine Parade by-election
- 1997 general election
- 2001 general election
- 2006 general election
- 2011 general election
- 2012 Hougang by-election
- 2013 Punggol East by-election
- 2015 general election
- 2016 Bukit Batok by-election
- 2020 general election
Municipal Commission elections
City Council elections
Federal & State elections for Malaysia
- Nair, Gopalan. "Singapore Dissident". Singapore Dissident. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- 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.
- Diane K. Muazy and R. S. Milne, Singapore Under the People's Action Party (London, 2002), p. 143.
- Channel NewsAsia, "More detailed explanation needed to fend off gerrymandering claims: Analysts", August 3, 2015
- Koh, Gillian (27 August 2013). "GRC system and politics of inclusion" (PDF). The Straits Times. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Prime Minister's Office, Our Departments Archived 7 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Tan, Netina (14 July 2013). "Manipulating electoral laws in Singapore, Electoral Studies". Electoral Studies (Special Symposium: The new research agenda on electoral integrity). doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2013.07.014. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior, Pippa Norris
- "Singapore Parliament Reports - Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill". 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Map of Freedom in the World: Singapore (2009)". Freedom House. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- Ong, Andrea. "Ex-MP and diplomat launches book on multi-ethnic Chinese descendants in SEA". Straits Times. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- "PM Lee calls for polls; Parliament dissolved and writ issued for General Election". TODAYonline. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- "GE2020: Nomination Day on June 30; Polling Day on July 10". TODAYOnline. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- "PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ACT". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(a).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(b).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(c) read with Art. 44(2)(c).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(c) read with Art. 44(2)(d).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(d) read with Art. 45.
- The disqualification of a person under clauses (d) and (e) may be removed by the President and shall, if not so removed, cease at the end of five years beginning from the date on which the return mentioned in clause (d) was required to be lodged or, as the case may be, the date on which the person convicted as mentioned in clause (e) was released from custody or the date on which the fine mentioned in clause (1) (e) was imposed on such person: Constitution, Art. 45(2).
- A person shall not be disqualified under this clause by reason only of anything done by him before he became a citizen of Singapore: Constitution, Art. 45(2). In clause (f), "foreign country" does not include any part of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland: Art. 45(3).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(e).
- Constitution, Art. 19(2)(f).
- Constitution, Art. 19(3)(a).
- Constitution, Art. 19(3)(b) read with the Fifth Schedule.
- Constitution, Art. 19(4), read with Art. 19(7).
- Constitution, Art. 19(3)(c) and Art 19(4)(b).
- Yeo, Lay Hwee (2002), "Electoral Politics in Singapore", in Croissant, Aurel; Bruns, Gabriele; John, Marei (eds.), Electoral Politics in Southeast and East Asia (PDF), Singapore: Office for Regional Cooperation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, pp. 203–232, ISBN 978-981-04-6020-4, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2007.
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