PAP won GE2015 before campaign began: Polling firm Blackbox Research

PAP supprters waiting for the polling results at Bedok Stadium on Sept 11, 2015.
PAP supprters waiting for the polling results at Bedok Stadium on Sept 11, 2015. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Last September's election was won by the People's Action Party (PAP) well before the campaign began, polling company Blackbox Research said yesterday at a discussion on opinion polls and sentiment towards the Government.
 

It noted that while there was some public unhappiness in 2013 due to the Population White Paper and public transport breakdowns, policy shifts from 2014 helped win Singaporeans over again.

And the death of first prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew last March led to a significant uptick in support for the PAP, its polls found.

Blackbox drew these conclusions from its monthly surveys of 1,000 adults across Singapore, which it began in January 2014 to track public satisfaction with the Government.

Blackbox managing director David Black said yesterday: "Our polling indicates that the campaign in itself didn't really lift the PAP vote. The 70 per cent vote that was achieved by the PAP was pretty much locked in before the election campaign started."

DOUBLE EFFECT

This upswing was a result of the work the Government had done in the two previous years, plus the multiplier of the LKY effect after his passing, which got more people to really focus on Singapore's achievements.

MR DAVID BLACK, managing director of polling company Blackbox Research.

Last year, the PAP won 69.9 per cent of the vote, a 9.8 percentage point rise from the 60.1 per cent it won in the 2011 General Election.

During the discussion at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Mr Black and his colleague, Blackbox associate research director Johannes Loh, said the public noticed improvement in hot-button issues such as public transport and jobs.

For instance, satisfaction with public transport climbed 20 percentage points, from 53 per cent in January 2014 to 73 per cent at the end of that year.

This coincided with the roll-out of policies such as the $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme that put more buses on the roads and the Pioneer Generation Package, which subsidises the medical bills of citizens born before 1950.

In particular, lower-income Singaporeans, whom Blackbox described as the PAP's core constituents, were more satisfied with the party.

Last August, a pre-election survey of 2,000 voters commissioned by Mediacorp found that 66 per cent said they would describe the Government's overall performance since 2011 as good or very good.

"This upswing was a result of the work the Government had done in the two previous years, plus the multiplier of the LKY effect after his passing, which got more people to really focus on Singapore's achievements," said Mr Black.

When respondents were asked after the election why they thought more people voted for the PAP, the top two factors cited were the feel- good effect of Singapore's Golden Jubilee, and Mr Lee's death.

"The LKY effect was real and provided a big sentiment boost across the board," said Blackbox.

Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, who was at the discussion, told reporters that it was difficult for opposition parties to push their policy proposals to voters in the short nine-day campaign.

Respondents were also asked last December how they envisioned local politics in the next 50 years.

Some 42 per cent were neutral when asked to respond to the statement that Singapore will not see a change in government in the next 50 years, while 34 per cent agreed and 24 per cent disagreed.

And 31 per cent agreed with the statement that Singaporeans are not interested in a multi-party political system, while 30 per cent disagreed. The rest were neutral.

Seven in 10 of the respondents agreed that opposition parties needed to work together more in the future if they were to challenge the PAP.

As for whether Singapore needs more Western-style democracy with a strong opposition, 48 per cent were neutral. But 29 per cent agreed and 23 per cent did not.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2016, with the headline 'PAP won GE2015 before campaign began: Polling firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe