I just read The Online Citizen article on some research findings on the likely performance of PAP in the next General Elections. It appears that 80% of those polled think that PAP will perform the same or better than in the 2011 Elections.
Technically, the elections ought to be held anytime before Jan 2017. As we get closer towards that date, the incumbent begins to lose the advantage of the element of surprise that exists in a snap election. At any point in time that they perceive the ground to be sweet between now and the end of next year, the PM would call for general elections.
Many of us expect the elections to be this year. The primary reason is that it is a year where budget has been allocated for SG50 celebrations and often the messaging about Singapore’s success is indistinguishable from the messaging about PAP’s contributions to that success. It would make good sense for the ruling party to cash in on the celebratory mood and hold a GE this year. The death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew (however vulgar it may seem to say this) provided a classic propaganda opportunity to the ruling party to set the historical role of the Party and its key founding member. If you had watched many of the presentations on ChannelNewsAsia, it becomes clear that key state narratives about the 1960s and about the vulnerability of the country and the extensive role of the party have been woven in. There was also quite clearly an attempt to identify the extent to this LKY, the man, had modelled the party after his own values. This was a crucial part of the messaging as the extent of reverence shown by Singaporeans to LKY became rather extreme in the week of national mourning and it was quite easy to the turn that reverence into a respect for the political party that came to be modelled after his values.
Some of the eulogies at the funeral service alluded to the care that LKY took to ensure that there was proper succession planning in the party. Whether this was deliberate placement or purely a subconscious desire on the part of the speakers to show their affiliation with the man, it was quite obvious that the party was being shown to be carrying the torch. If enough of this type of messaging had seeped into the consciousness of the general public, it is likely that the current PAP leaders will stand to gain somewhat from the death of LKY. The confluence of reverence for the man and the SG50 celebrations would make it likely that PAP will move into a sweet spot for an election in the 2nd half of this year (with the months of September to December 2015 being the best window period.)
At the end of this year the Asean Economic Community will come into existence. The ‘Free movement of high-skilled labour’ aspect of the AEC is likely have some effect on the ground. It appears that in the PMET employment market this might have noticeable effect in Singapore. Although the Singapore government has assured that it would not result in an unrestricted flow of PMETs from ASEAN into Singapore, it is unclear as to how things would develop on the ground. If the inflow becomes visible to Singaporeans, there may be increasing unhappiness amongst the voters. The PAP would lose the sweet spot that it is moving into right now. Strangely, there isn’t much conversation in Singapore about AEC and the potential effects on the local labour market but in a way, it is not surprising in that many people naturally react to situations rather that look ahead to future macro trends.
Against the backdrop of the high possibility of an election this year, there appears to be a popular perception that the PAP would make gains rather than that it would lose ground. The report that I referred to earlier from The Online Citizen referred to research done by Blackbox Research. Blackbox have identified that there is a perception that PAP would do better if there is an election this year.
I would like to do my own little experiment. There are two questions that I want to ask. They are:
Who would you vote for if there was an election today?
Do you think that PAP would do better, the same or worse than in the last election.
I want to know the deviation between these two questions. It is entirely possible that you might want to vote for the opposition but you might nevertheless feel that PAP is in an advantageous position this year. So, give your honest answers. I’ll do this poll over the next two weeks and close the poll on 31st May 2015.
For those of you that may be afraid to indicate that you would vote for the opposition because of privacy issues, please be assured that I am unable to access the details of who voted for whom. I get only the summarised percentages. Your vote is indeed secret here.