On Friday, Singapore’s 5.
5 million people will vote on their future with all 89 parliament seats in contention.
It’s been in power since 1959, but the upcoming general election will be a real test for the city-state’s People’s Action Party.
Formed by Lee Kuan Yew – the man dubbed Singapore’s Founding Father – the People’s Action Party, or P.A.P, has developed an economically-strong Singapore, investing in business, infrastructure and education.
But the power, yielded with an iron fist for decades, does have downfalls.
The P.A.P has been criticised for tight controls on media, freedom of speech and political tactics.
With a slipping 60 per cent approval rating, there’s growing demand for more checks and balances, and the public doesn’t want the government to become complacent.
P.A.P’s current leader is Lee Hsein Loong, Lee Kuan Yew’s son and the party’s third leader in 50 years.
His battle is to try and court younger voters, as the public complains about widening wage gaps and a growing foreign workforce. They are issues its opponents, such as the Workers’ Party, are capitalising on.
Workers’ Party candidate Danel Goh said “the rising tide lifts all boats, but this is more like flash flooding of the labour force, depressing wage growth and pushing up the cost of living”.
“Many Singaporeans have been thrown overboard,” he said.
Associate Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University, Eugene Tan, said voters have a demanding task choosing a party in the first-past-the-post voting system.
“You only cast your ballot for one team, for one candidate,” he said.
“You don’t have a choice of trying to cast some votes for a strong party and some votes for there to be checks and balances.”
He said many voters are hoping these elections will lead to political pluralism, creating a two or multi-party system.
“For the P.A.P, they’re very conscious that they need to stop this decline in electoral support,” he said.
“And for the opposition parties, I think there is a sense that this is a good time to make further inroads.”
With all 89 parliament seats in contention, analysts believe the party may be responding with a more populist agenda.