Date
27 May 2017
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is seeking a mandate to take Singapore into its next half century. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is seeking a mandate to take Singapore into its next half century. Photo: Reuters

Singapore calls early polls, taps into anniversary euphoria

Singapore is moving up a general election to Sept. 11, more than a year early.

The government is seen riding the feel-good factor from the country’s recent 50th birthday celebration amid a slowing economy.

The People’s Action Party (PAP), founded by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, and in power since six years before independence in 1965, is keen to tap national pride in  the aftermath of the Aug. 9 festivities, according to analysts cited by Reuters.

In 2011, the PAP won its lowest share of the vote with many people unhappy about the high cost of living and immigration, issues that will again be at the forefront of campaign debates.

The next general election does not take place until January 2017 but there has been media speculation it will come early.

“I called this general election to seek your mandate to take Singapore … into its next half century,” Lee said on his Facebook page, referring to Singapore’s 50th birthday.

“More than that, you will be choosing the team to work with you for the next 15-20 years, and setting the direction for Singapore for the next 50 years.”

In the 2011 election, the PAP won 60 percent of the vote, down from 67 percent in 2006, even though it won 81 of the 87 parliamentary seats.

“For the PAP, it will be about slowing down the political inroads that the opposition made in 2011,” said Eugene Tan, associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.

“The quest for a strong mandate is pervasive.”

The election also comes at a time when Singapore is seeing slowing economic growth.

The government this month revised its official gross domestic product growth forecast for 2015 to 2.0-2.5 percent from 2-4 percent previously.

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CG/RA

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