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Friday, February 17, 2006 

Fewer Walkovers Better for Ruling Party?

This is quite an interesting article from today's Straits Times at the Commentary section on Elections. By the way, there are some new polls out on the sidebar on the right side of the webpage. Feel free to participate in it.

"Will your constituency be contested or will there be a walkover?" This is the question on many Singaporeans' minds. Many who have never voted because their constituencies were not contested in the past are hopeful of finally being able to vote.

This is because the opposition parties have declared that they intend to contest in many wards. If you believe all they have said to the media, the picture you get is this: The major opposition parties will contest in all nine single-seat wards and at least six group representation constituencies (GRCs), possibly seven or more. They have also agreed to avoid three-cornered fights.

The Workers' Party is apparently eyeing Aljunied and East Coast, and possibly Sembawang, all GRCs. The Singapore Democratic Alliance is said to be considering at least two GRCs, including Jalan Besar. The Singapore Democratic Party said it intends to contest in at least one GRC and some single-seat wards. The Democratic Progressive Party also said it is eyeing at least one GRC 'somewhere in the east'. Add up the numbers and at least six, possibly seven or more, GRCs may be contested. The difference between six and seven is a wealth of difference.

If the opposition sticks to six five-member GRCs and the nine single-seat wards, it will field 39 candidates, which is just below half of the 84 seats under existing boundaries. That will return the People's Action Party to power on Nomination Day. If the opposition goes for one more GRC, it will contest in more than half the seats, and the PAP will not be returned to power on Nomination Day. If the opposition does indeed contest in more than half the wards available, this will be a departure from the past two general elections (GEs), when the PAP was returned to power on Nomination Day as the opposition contested fewer than half the seats.

In fact, over the past four GEs, progressively fewer seats were contested and there were more walkovers. In the past four GEs, in 1988, 1991, 1997 and 2001, the number of walkovers went up: from 11, to 41, 47 and then 55.

In GE 2006, if the opposition contests in all nine single-seat wards and at least seven GRCs, then the number of walkovers could be reduced to just below half the total number of seats, depriving the PAP of being returned to power on Nomination Day. (All this is, of course, based on the current state of constituencies. The electoral boundaries report due to be out soon will change the calculation somewhat, although the implications of contesting more than half the seats remain.)

If the opposition does contest in more than half the seats, as it has suggested it may, does it matter? And what does it mean to the PAP and the opposition? For the opposition, contesting more wards risks spreading its already thin resources, but will give its many new recruits useful exposure and experience. It could also raise the image of the opposition, signalling its coming of age and readiness to take on the Government as an alternative, rather than remain bit players on the fringe. However, the opposition will have to weigh the potential benefits of an all-out onslaught against the impact that more contests will have on the PAP.

The PAP usually performs better in GRCs than in single-seat wards. So if the opposition contests in more GRCs, the net result is likely to be a rise in the PAP's share of votes overall. Contesting more than half the seats also deprives the opposition of the so-called by-election effect strategy - the brainchild of veteran opposition MP Chiam See Tong in 1991 - which refers to the strategy of contesting fewer than half the seats and returning the PAP to power on Nomination Day.

The reasoning is that with the PAP back in government, Singapore voters will feel freer to vote for the opposition as there will be no fear that an untested opposition might inadvertently come to power. The last three GEs, which all returned the PAP to power on Nomination Day, were premised partly on that calculation. However, it is debatable if the by-election effect strategy has as much resonance today as in the 1990s. And as the results showed, the strategy did not raise the opposition's vote share. On the contrary, it went down from 39 per cent in 1991, to 35 per cent in 1997 and 25 per cent in 2001.

A younger crop of opposition strategists may prefer to go for more contest rather than less, even if this risks diluting the by-election effect. Ironically, though, more contests spell good news for the PAP. As mentioned above, it is likely to raise the percentage of the PAP's vote share. More contests will also raise the legitimacy of the PAP, which has faced criticism for the way many of its new MPs have walked into Parliament without going through an electoral contest.

In 2001, 18 out of 23 PAP candidates who became MPs did so without having to go through the polls as their constituencies were not contested. PAP veterans have indicated in past elections that they would also prefer to see more young MPs and ministers go through the 'baptism of fire' an election campaign brings. This election, many ministers anchoring GRCs have explicitly challenged the opposition to contest in their wards.

In the end, it is the opposition's call how many candidates it aims to field collectively. It will have to weigh the potential benefits of contesting in more than half the seats, against the potential advantage this may inadvertently cede to the PAP. For the opposition, the key calculation will be this. Contest in more seats for the experience and risk giving the PAP a greater share of the vote? Or contest in fewer and aim to make a dent in the PAP's vote share? It's a tough call.

There is one group, though, that will welcome more contests as a win-win proposition: voters, especially those hoping for a chance to cast their vote for the first time.

Chua Mui Hoong alternates with guest writers in this weekly column

I would like to see more contests by the opposition as this would make the GE more exciting!

T, you haven't replied to my request.

Hi Locky2ky

Actually I did added a reply to your Singaland blog. Anyway, I was saying that whether you could u email me your email address so that I can reply you some minor requirements I have, in private.

On the whole, I do not have any problems with it, just need to add in a note. Please email me at singaporegovt@singapore.com


hi, can i use the pics of lim chin siong to inspire students to go on strike?


i really wish you could inspire the students as they are generally apolitical.

maybe if you can photoshop lim into a singapore idol contestant, then there might be a chance. good luck!

Hi do you hav more pics of lim chin siong? more info on lim chin siong, more quotes of lim chin siong??? your blog has so much stuff the academic books dun hav

Hi Limchinsiong_fan

The pictures are obtained from National Archives Board. URL Link: http://www.a2o.com.sg/public/search/index.html

I think if you have read Lim Chin Siong well enough, he doesn't urges students to go on strike. There is a difference between passion and irrationality. The ultimate end is for the betterment for Singapore. I'm sure strikes are not the least bit for any good, under the present era, other than for political instigations.

In the later parts, I will be writing on Lim Chin Siong. Thanks for visiting this blog.


for the sake of excitement more contests? lol what a joke simply for excitement ? OMG!!

how? seen the budget? what u think? any other party besides PAP can deliver this kind of budget? Name me lol

to: Limchinsiong_fan

There are a few books that you can read up on Lim Chin Siong. There are last chapter of Lee’s Lieutenants by Lam, Peng Er and Tan, Kevin (Ed.) (2000), Several chapters of Vol 1 of the Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew and
Tan Jing Quee, Jomo K.S;s Comet in our sky : Lim Chin Siong in history'.

thanks very much, BTW said zahari's Dark Clouds At Dawn: A Political Memoir
is also a good book for info bout lim chin siong, any 1 know more, chinese books ?

arrrrr no 1 wana toke abt exisitng thing la no 1 wana credit PAP 4 the budget but wana criticise things like no speech freedom icic lol

when TI ranked spore highly for non corruption no 1 credit when ppl ranked us 140th for press freedom make the hell of noise c who being selective then. those who can c got the ans those who cant......

up till this day i hvnt heard any1 saying whether i took any1 $$$ and if yes who pay me? y stop on this? got balls carry on better still make it public i DARE tht person come out openly n say it like chee n JBJ scared what? stop giving me ans like what $$$ inside one pocket what ans is tht? may i know? y? so highly educated cant even ans a simple qn? or dun dare 2 side me? lol or only gd @ writing big articles?

ppl only dare to attack once when i threaten action he walk off what u call tht? i dunno ppl who r highly educated shld hv a better ans. educate uncle pls thks.

I think there's a collection of Lim Chin Siong's speeches in Chinese.

hi ben is this collection in book form? do you know the the title? when isit published? where can i find? will be very grateful, cause my chinese quite bad, dunno where to start finding

Hi Lim Chin Siong Fan

You might already have or might want to check out this book: Comet in Our Sky, Lim Chin Siong in History.

It is available at http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/getTitle.cfm?SBNum=31610


Excuse me while I make a appearance here laughing at Wolong's monologue...hahahaha.

Thanks very much everyone.

cos u got no balls repeat ur allegation in public go

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