Though nearly all wards might be contested in this coming elections, the public’s and media’s eyes can only be trained on a select few, because they are known as ‘battleground’ GRCs or SMCs. In the US presidential elections, they have battleground states, where winning the most votes in them is crucial to their overall count in the electoral college. This is because some states are either solidly Democratic or Republican, some are fence-sitters and have a huge influence in deciding the outcome of the elections.
In S’pore, due to our circumstances here, by default all electoral wards would be coloured white. The reason why Potong Pasir and Hougang have been in opposition hands for so long is due to the personalities of their MPs, rather than their parties. But even then, we can speculate (before Nomination Day) which GRC or SMC is likely to be a battleground.
What defines a battleground?
1) Good chance of falling into opposition hands i.e. Aljunied GRC (?),
2) Historic or unprecedented i.e. 3-way fights,
3) The candidates or issues involved in the GRC or SMC are highly controversial that they can swing votes i.e. NSP’s minister-specific strategy, Chiam See Tong contesting in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
4) Heightened sense of expectations or anticipation, whether real or false i.e. Potong Pasir being contested by Lina Chiam.
A GRC or SMC can fulfill one or all conditions to become a battleground ward. These are probably the battleground GRCs or SMCs:
1) Aljunied (most hotly-contested in GE 2006)
2) Tampines (NSP attacking Mah Bow Tan and housing, if he stays there)
3) Bishan-Toa Payoh (Chiam leaving his stronghold for probably his swansong election, if he loses)
4) Moulmein-Kallang (unprecedented PAP-NSP-WP three-cornered fight)
I’d put these GRCs in the first tier of battleground wards, assuming everything is the same on Nomination Day.
In the second tier, it would probably be:
1) Nee Soon GRC (NS East, Central were previously contested, and South was once nearly lost to the opposition. As of now, seems to be safe for the PAP)
2) East Coast (ironically, the anchor minister Lim Swee Say has NEVER faced an election before. And that minister for transport Raymond Lim was not promoted to be the anchor minister suggests the PAP believes he is a ‘lightweight’ minister, and that he might bear the brunt of the opposition’s attack on transport issues, costing them support. But as of now, it seems East Coast is still pure white)
1) Potong Pasir (would Lina Chiam hold her husband’s stronghold? That is probably the million-dollar-question)
Hmm, I don’t really think other wards are that ‘hot’ – yet. In the second tier, it would be:
1) Pioneer (RP chief KJ on his maiden attempt – and facing a possible 3-way fight)
And it’d be prudent to lump these SMCs together, because they might face 3-way or 4-way fights, yet these wards seem to be safely PAP: Seng Kang West, Punggol East, Radin Mas, Whampoa, Yuhua, Joo Chiat.
It’s not surprising that GRCs are hotter than SMCs, given that the opposition’s target is to seize at least one GRC.
Anyway, everything might change on Nomination Day. So till then…