My thoughts on early elections

The Sage of Singapore has spoken:

He (MM Lee) said there would be ‘no purpose’ in holding an election in Singapore before 2011, but the timing of a poll will depend on the health of the global economy.

Actually I agree with him.

Amidst all the speculation in the media and blogosphere that elections are coming, I can’t fathom why the PAP government would want to call early elections.

I think public opinion and confidence in the government is currently at an all time low. While “low” is not low compared to countries like Japan, where the prime minister’s approval ratings are in the teens, it is still too low to win as convincingly as the last time round.

Let’s face it: Whether elections are held tomorrow, next year or in January 2012, the PAP is going to win an outright majority. The question is by how much and whether they will lose any more seats in the next election.

But common wisdom states that the best time (for the PAP) to hold an election is at the start of a recession, or towards the tail end of one. MM Lee, and even his son the PM, has said that 2009 could see an 8% contraction in the economy. This would be an appalling performance, and more so if our economy contracts more than our neighbours and competitors.

The 2009 Budget contains billions of benefits for companies, but just peanuts for Singaporeans. That’s not a recipe for electoral success, since companies don’t vote.

Of course the PAP is free to act on its hubris and call for elections nonetheless. We’ll see what dent the opposition can make on the ballot box.

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

7 thoughts on “My thoughts on early elections”

  1. It’s pointless to hold an election now. I don’t think our government is doing such a bad job that an election is needed to boost our confidence. In fact, I think our government is performing exceptionally well in helping us through this crisis. But I do feel that it could have started its damage control earlier.

  2. I think this should dispel all speculation as the Sage has spoken. Hopefully it gives the opp parties a bit more time to get their act together. I feel change is needed to really allow citizens to exercise their voting powers. I don’t mean to vote for the sake of voting but being stretched to make an informed choice. Is this possible? I hope so.

  3. This goes both ways – 1) A govt that is not hung up about a truly level playing field ie. redrawing electoral boundaries to their advantage is one area I feel that is in need of change. 2) Opp parties that have a multi-faceted approach to engaging the electorate rather than just the ‘ground’ ie. whats in it for the middle class other than just jobs and the economy? More vision casting and more thought provoking arguments that truly bring about viable alternatives for the future.

  4. Keenleen: agree on the part about govt being highstrung on electoral boundaries, but the latter part “whats in it for the middle class other than just jobs and the economy?”– when it comes to the crunch, it’s bread and butter issues that people are concerned most about isn’t it? At the end of the day, Singaporeans are a pragmatic lot, and even if you talked about redistribution of wealth, elderly support systems and even chaging the education system, it all points back to Singapore’s economy at the end of the day, because it’s all about meeting basic survival needs first, before all other things.

    Just my take, no offense intended.

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