The decisive victory of the People's Action Party in the General Election represents a clear expression of both the priorities of the electorate and the standards expected of national leaders. That explicitness bodes well for the nation. The so-called silent majority, who had listened quietly to forceful articulation at the hustings, did weigh in when it counted most on Polling Day, like the "shy Tories" in Britain's election in May who had kept their cards close to their chests before the polls before giving the Conservatives a thumping win. Singaporeans' votes show they want the next 50 years to be as fruitful as the first half-century, and they put their faith in leaders who have delivered the goods.
Indirectly, the votes signal an aversion to risk at a moment when the markets have been shaken by China's financial turmoil, the prospect of an interest rate hike in the United States, and slower growth that is expected here. Another influential factor, no doubt, is the confluence of significant events: a Golden Jubilee that evoked patriotism, the death of founding premier Lee Kuan Yew which brought Singaporeans together, and a series of major reforms and redistributive social measures. Not surprisingly, credit was duly given by the electorate to the PAP for being a policy maven (in addressing many of the seething issues that had cast a pall on GE 2011) and an overachiever in consulting people (50,000 during the Our Singapore Conversation sessions and 40,000 for the Strengthen National Service exercise).
That consultative impulse should not wane, given a latent desire for a diversity of views in Parliament. Despite the convincing swing towards the ruling party, it would be unwise to conclude a return to the "old normal" of politics here. Generally, there is no smooth sailing in oppositional politics and though this election did not see the worst of what could be thrown up, many still retain memories of the divisive politics of the past and the fears this evoked. While Singaporeans might not like the idea of a dominant - or domineering - government without checks and balances, they also do not relish the prospect of one so hamstrung that it is unable to get things done in their interest. The experience of the past 50 years has been that a strong government works in the nation's interest, amid the many challenges it faces, provided that government remains engaged with its citizens, and responsive to their needs and concerns.
After a strenuous season of jousting, Singaporeans as a whole should hunker down together now to work out sound strategies to meet the challenges ahead, including forging a consensus on some of the thorny issues raised during the campaign, including immigration, living costs and income inequality. Having won their seats, now the work begins, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "onwards to SG100".