SINGAPORE - The National Solidarity Party (NSP) will not contest in Marine Parade and MacPherson at the next general election, to avoid clashing with the Workers' Party (WP).
In a statement on Monday (Aug 9), the NSP said it was taking the "difficult decision" in recognition of "voters' desire for greater opposition representation in Parliament".
NSP acting secretary-general Hazel Poa said: "Multi-cornered contests are likely to dilute opposition votes and reduce the chances of a more diverse Parliament. We trust that the WP will send in good candidates and give voters in these two constituencies a choice."
WP chairman Sylvia Lim, in a Facebook update on Monday, thanked the NSP for announcing its decision early.
Ms Lim said: "WP will continue to focus on its preparations and campaign on the 10 constituencies announced."
Both parties had stood firm about contesting in Marine Parade GRC and single-seat MacPherson SMC during meetings on three-cornered fights last week among opposition parties.
The WP made an offer to give up MacPherson, in exchange for NSP staying away from Marine Parade, but it was rejected by the NSP, said Ms Lim last Friday during a walkabout.
On Monday, Ms Poa revealed that her party had informed the WP in an e-mail on Friday of its decision to pull out of both constituencies, and was hoping to issue a joint statement about it "as a symbol of cooperation".
However, she said, the WP did not respond.
Opposition parties met twice last week, on Monday and Thursday, to discuss who should contest in which constituencies against the People's Action Party. The WP attended only the first and not the second meeting, saying that it had already made its intentions clear.
Ms Poa said that "had the WP been present at Thursday's meeting, the issue could have been resolved".
She added: "As there are many who are anxious for an outcome, NSP decided not to delay any further, but to make this announcement on our own."
The NSP had contested in Marine Parade GRC in the last election, polling 43.4 per cent of valid votes against the PAP's 56.6 per cent.
After giving up both constituencies, NSP will now contest in Tampines and Sembawang GRCs and Pioneer SMC at the next general election.
Ms Poa thanked the Singapore Democratic Party for "voluntarily withdrawing from Sembawang GRC in the interest of opposition unity".
With this new development, 28 out of 29 constituencies are headed for straight fights between an opposition party and the ruling PAP.
The only constituency that could still see a three-cornered fight is Ang Mo Kio GRC, eyed by both Singaporeans First Party and Reform Party. Leaders of both parties said last week that they will resolve the issue.
Opposition parties have tried to avoid such contests as these split the anti- PAP vote, reducing their chances of winning.