SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party put up a winning performance in this Jubilee Year general election, wresting back Punggol East from the Workers' Party and securing a strong mandate with a popular vote share of 69.9 per cent.
This was an almost 10 percentage point increase from the 60.1 per cent it got in the 2011 election.
All wards saw huge vote swings to the ruling party, many by more than 10 percentage points and some by even more than 15 points.
The PAP took 83 of the 89 seats in 29 constituencies. The party scored more than 70 per cent in 15 of the 29 wards, results not seen in recent elections.
The Workers' Party, which went to the election with seven members in Parliament, held on to the five-member Aljunied GRC helmed by secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, but only just - with 51 per cent or 2,612 votes. This was down from the 54.7 per cent four years ago.
The party also retained Hougang single constituency, but its vote share slipped to 57.7 per cent from the 62.1 per cent in the 2012 by-election.
Overall, the WP's share of votes in the wards it contested slipped 6.8 points to 39.8 per cent.
Political observers say its showing could have been hurt by the ongoing dispute between the party and the government over financial lapses discovered at the Aljunied-Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).
The nationwide swing to the PAP was likely because of government policies implemented since the last election that took the sting out of prickly issues such as housing, as well as lingering sentiment from founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's death and Jubilee Year celebrations, they said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Ang Mo Kio GRC team polled the second-highest votes in the election - after Jurong GRC's 79.3 per cent - getting 78.6 per cent against a Reform Party team.
In a speech after his GRC win, Mr Lee, the PAP's secretary-general, thanked Ang Mo Kio voters for their strong support. He said his team was very grateful, very happy and also "very humbled by this result, by the trust which you have put on us, by the responsibility which we have taken on to serve you, to represent you and to look after your interest".
He said: "We look forward to working with you closely to make Ang Mo Kio the best place to live, work and play. Tomorrow will be better than today, SG100 will be better than SG50. Thank you very much."
In Punggol East, veteran PAP MP Charles Chong won 51.8 per cent of the votes, taking back the ward that went to the WP's Lee Li Lian in a by-election in 2013.
A disappointed Ms Lee told supporters at Hougang Stadium: "The WP and I respect your decision and in the next few months we will be working to ensure smooth handover of the town council."
In Aljunied GRC, which the PAP shockingly lost in 2011 with 45.3 per cent of the votes, the party's "suicide squad" of Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, Mr Victor Lye and Mr Shamsul Kamar managed 49 per cent against a WP slate that included party chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Chen Show Mao, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap.
The PAP asked for a recount, which is allowed if the margin is equal to or less than 2 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast. The vote was finally announced at 3.15am.
The PAP's Sitoh Yih Pin decisively retained Potong Pasir, getting 66.4 per cent against the Singapore People's Party's Lina Chiam, wife of long-time opposition leader Chiam See Tong. This was a 16 percentage point increase from his 2011 showing.
For the first time, the Elections Department made public the results of sample counts to give the public an early indication of the results.
As they started streaming in around 9.35pm, it became clear that the PAP was on a winning streak, with voter sentiment swinging back to the party after its 2011 result, which was the worst in history when it got 60.1 per cent of the votes.
Seats which were regarded as "hot" turned out otherwise.
Fengshan: The seat was carved out from East Coast GRC and in a surprise move, the PAP fielded a new face, grassroots leader Cheryl Chan, who was pitted against lawyer Dennis Tan, seen as an up-and-coming face in the WP. The sample count showed PAP had 57 per cent against the WP's 43 per cent. The final result was 57.5 per cent in the PAP's favour.
East Coast GRC. Pundits had thought the WP's second-best team of Mr Gerald Giam, Mr Daniel Goh, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff and Mr Leon Perera would stand a good chance against the PAP's slate of Mr Lim Swee Say, Mr Lee Yi Shan, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman and Ms Jessica Tan. In the end, the sample vote count was 61 per cent to 39 per cent. The PAP won 60.7 per cent, the lowest among the GRCs.
"It was a tough battle, without you we would not be here," Mr Lim Swee Say told supporters.
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC was also closely watched because of the comeback of Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, whose rallies were well-attended. The sample vote score was 66 per cent to PAP and 34 per cent to the SDP. Final score: PAP 66.6 per cent. Dr Chee later said: "I dare say it's a one-off."
Marine Parade GRC, whose PAP slate included former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, was also said to be a "hot" seat given its proximity to East Coast GRC. The sample vote was 65 per cent to the PAP and 35 per cent to the WP. In the end, the ruling party scored 64.1 per cent, the second-lowest among the GRCs.
ALL SINGAPOREANS GOT TO VOTE
For the first time since independence in 1965, all seats were contested. A record eight opposition parties threw their hats in the ring, with the WP contesting 28 seats, the National Solidarity Party 12, and the Reform Party and the SDP 11 each.
A total of 2.46 million Singaporeans were eligible to vote in the country's 12th since independence.
The PAP fought the election on the slogan With You, For You, For Singapore. It campaigned on how the party had delivered on its promises these past 50 years, and that it was the best party to guide the country into the future.
Mr Lee told voters that the PAP placed Singaporeans at the heart of all it does. He said that Singapore has to get its politics right if the country is to continue to succeed for the next 50 years.
At a lunchtime rally near the historic Fullerton Square, he spoke of how the pioneer generation had worked with the PAP to transform the country and uplift the lot of its people so that Singaporeans could celebrate SG50 proudly as one people.
For Singapore to continue to move forward, younger generations would need the same pioneering spirit, he said. "The world is changing. Singapore is changing. Our politics will have to change... But we have to work together even if we have to work harder to have a national consensus," he said. "So when we move forward, we move as one people and we get there as one united people."
He identified three elements of politics in Singapore that should be retained even as it evolves. One, it had to be honest and clean. Two, the Government has to take care of its people today and also for tomorrow. Three, good people have to be in government for politics to work.
During the campaign, Mr Lee also said that Singapore's next prime minister was likely to be drawn from among the MPs elected in this election.
He put himself at the forefront the the PAP's campaign, with his posters appearing around the island. "Whichever constituency it is... the PAP candidate standing there is standing on behalf of the PAP. By voting for him, you're voting for me, you're voting for my team, you're voting for my programme and you're voting for my promise. The promise is: We will work with you to make Singapore better for you and your children." he said.
The WP fought the election on the theme Empower Your Future and focused on the need for a new type of political system, marked by a stronger opposition in Parliament.
"Parliament must play the crucial role of checking and pushing a powerful executive to make well-balanced policies and laws that protect and advance the people's interests," said its chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim.
In an interview with The Straits Times shortly after voting ended on Sept 11, secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said of the AHPETC dispute: "I think people do trust us. They know we are not what as described by the PAP over the AHPETC saga."
He added: "We are people of integrity. We've done the best that we could to serve the residents. Again, we could have done better and we would like to do better. But we have done our best nevertheless given the circumstances that we were in."
GE2015 final results
Here are the official results from the Elections Department. See the full details of the results here.
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