Tag Archives: aljunied

GE 2011: Preliminary Analysis

That the victory of Workers’ Party in Aljunied has overshadowed other electoral contests is inevitable; the stakes were high there. Before Polling Day, I predicted that the SDA would be obliterated at the polls, and in the 3-cornered fight at Punggol East, the SDA secretary-general himself lost his electoral deposit. The PAP scored 60.14 percent in the popular vote share, a 6-point drop from the previous elections. But I’d think this is a consistent trend:

PAP & WP popular vote share in %

1)

As you can see from the diagram, with the exception of the exceptional year 2001, the PAP popular vote share has been hovering in the lower 60 percentage points. I believe if not for the quality of opposition candidates in some SMCs, the PAP popular vote share would have fallen to between 55 and 60 percentage points, GE 2011 being fiercely contested. But the trend is this: the PAP vote share has been in the 60s since 1988 (except 2001), and it might continue to decline.

For the Workers’ Party, they have never breached beyond 20 percent popular vote share from 1988, but this might be because they did not field candidates in all wards. However, their share of the popular votes has been fairly consistent (again, discount 2001). Ironically, while their popular vote share has dipped from 2006, they secured a record number of 6 seats. This can be attributed to other parties competing heavily against the PAP as well, especially the NSP, which took a nearly equal amount of 12 percent in the popular share. It is clear, over the past 20 years, the WP has consistently remained the No.2 choice of voters.

2)

The PAP has been inflicted a psychological blow, in losing Aljunied GRC. The law of large numbers, however, has held up well in other GRCs, so Aljunied might be an exception. But with the loss of 3 ministers, and the lowest popular vote share since independence, the PAP would do a very deep and sombre self-reflection.

3)

PAP has lost the ability to dictate the agenda. The PAP has originally campaigned on leadership renewal, 4G leadership etc, but it was obvious during the campaigning period, other issues such as cost of living, liberal immigrant policy, and housing took the stage. The 4G leadership was overshadowed by the WP’s hammering of a “First World Parliament” – such that PAP leaders had to respond to them, rather than pound on their own 4G message.

4)

Watershed elections? Yes, in the sense that the WP made a breakthrough. No, that the PAP still dominates overwhelmingly. But as I mentioned in point 3, the PAP can’t return to its heydays of dictating the agenda – it can respond, and respond vigorously it did. MM Lee might be wishing for the good old days of the 1970s and 1980s and perhaps 1990s (when upgrading of HDB flats became a key issue/threat, depends on how you see it)…but Singapore, Singaporeans, the PAP and opposition parties have changed and will change. For good or ill, it is too early to tell.

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If Aljunied were Won or Lost by PAP

It’s hard to predict the outcome of this particular general elections. The most pessimistic scenario is one where PAP wins all the seats i.e. 87 vs. 0. The most realistic scenarios are either 81 vs.6 or 85 vs. 2, with the Workers Party securing Aljunied and Hougang in the former (and possibly SPP taking Potong Pasir), and SPP and WP securing two in the latter.

What happens if the outcome is 85 vs. 2 i.e. Hougang and Potong Pasir stay opposition, Aljunied stays PAP, albeit by narrow margin? I think voters in Aljunied must look at past elections before voting:

  • 1988: Eunos GRC (3-member), PAP vs. WP, 50.89 vs. 49.11
  • 1991: Eunos GRC (4-member), PAP vs. WP, 52.39 vs. 47.62
  • 1997: Gone!

I’m not sure if the expansion of Eunos GRC in 1991 contributed to the PAP’s slight increase in its margin of  victory. Or if there was any gerrymandering in 1991. Look at another example:

  • 1997: Cheng San GRC (5-member), PAP vs. WP, 54.82 vs. 45.18
  • 2001: Gone!

If the PAP wins Aljunied with a narrow margin on 7 May, in the next elections, there will be a huge possibility the GRC will be carved out. It’ll disappear on the electoral map.

What if the outcome is 81 vs. 6 (or 80 vs. 7) i.e. Hougang, Potong Pasir and Aljunied go to the opposition?

George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua and Zainal Abidin are presently ministers. They will lose their seats and portfolios, but the PAP government doesn’t crash. And its shortage of talent problem is exaggerated.

Just take a look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently, George Yeo is the minister while Zainal Abidin is the Senior Minister of State. The second minister is Raymond Lim, who is also the transport minister. If George Yeo were booted out, the PM still has a few candidates to fill his portfolio:

  • Senior Minister Goh himself. He seems to be traveling overseas frequently anyway, so might as well appoint him as Foreign Affairs minister. Still, this is an unlikely decision, because of his age, and the PAP keeps harping about its 4th generation leadership.
  • Raymond Lim to become Foreign Affairs minister, and someone else to take his transport portfolio. From the list I complied, MOE and MTI each has an extra minister of state – S Iswaran is holding double portfolios, so he could be promoted to be transport minister. Alternatively, a minister can hold dual portfolios.
  • What about minister of state in the Foreign Affairs ministry? It’s likely a minister of state among the new candidates would be appointed anyway, but he or she would have to do without a mentor.

And the Speaker of Parliament?

  • Why not Indranee Rajah, the Deputy Speaker?
  • No other candidates?

The PAP is simply scaring the electorate. Losing George Yeo is very bad, but it’s their fault anyway. But losing him does not mean the end of the world, since the PAP is likely to have more than two-thirds majority. And from among its MPs, I’m sure most of them are sufficiently capable to become a minister, and not just a mere backbencher.

So, voters in Aljunied should weigh the consequences, as advised by MM Lee. Their future voting choices, or the loss of replaceable ministers?

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Filed under GE 2011, Predictions