Gearing up for elections


With a 2015 General Election looking more and more imminent, Insight looks at the campaign preparation of the ruling People's Action Party and the opposition camp.

A rude shock. And a shape-shifting triumph. Ironically, the former was the reaction of the victors, and the latter that of the defeated.

The People's Action Party (PAP) won the 2011 General Election with a vote share of 60.1 per cent, its worst since independence.

Meanwhile, the Workers' Party - one of six opposition parties in the contest - scored a coup by winning a group representation constituency, Aljunied.

Now, with the next General Election looming - it must be held by January 2017 - parties are gearing up and building on the lessons of GE2011.

In the PAP corner, Insight finds a mood of buoyancy after the Government's shift to the left in social policies to address a wave of voter discontent. Gone are the days of pomp, pageantry and what was often regarded as superficial interaction. The ruling party has overhauled its heartland engage-ment efforts, holding dialogues with small groups of residents, among other things.

As for the opposition, the dominant Workers' Party has gone from the heady days of its GRC victory to the gritty reality of larger-scale governance, such as the controversy over its handling of its town council finances.

However, of all the opposition parties, it is the one most operationally ready to campaign. From having a loose system of volunteers, it now has a centralised WP Grassroots Committee.

The opposition camp itself is a different beast now than in 2011, with the prospect of nine parties lining up for the GE tussle, the most ever. But where once they would have sought to present a unified front in order not to split the GE vote, this time around, some party officials Insight spoke to do not rule out three-cornered fights.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline 'GEARING UP FOR ELECTIONS'. Print Edition | Subscribe