After a sound endorsement in the 1992 by-election, this was another opportunity for Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to court a strong mandate following PAP's considerably poor showing in 1991. This election was also the first where the nomination and polling days were within different calendar years. The report of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee was sent to PM's Office on 6 November 1996 and published on 21 November 1996. Two seats, one each in Eunos and Toa Payoh GRCs, were vacated after the death of Tay Eng Soon and inauguration of former Deputy PM Ong Teng Cheong as Singapore's fifth and the first elected President. The main opposition SDP was facing serious internal strife. Former leader Chiam See Tong sued and won against his party's central executive committee for defamation, which was now led by Chee Soon Juan and the two SDP MPs. A few days before nominations, Chiam resigned from SDP and crossed over to its splinter party SPP. Two opposition candidates, Chee and Tang Liang Hong, came under heavy fire from PAP. Tang, who was standing on the WP ticket alongside secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam, was accused of being an "anti-Christian Chinese chavunist". GRC sizes adjusted again to range between three and six seats each, although only four, five and six-member GRCs were crafted. DPP fielded two candidates who were father and son. The latter, Tan Lead Shake, was the youngest candidate in the GE. For the first time, a Nominated MP, listed company director Chia Shi Teck, ran in an election. With the "HDB upgrading" carrot dangled as a pricy stake for voters, PAP reversed its electoral decline for the first time in four GEs and, since 1963, won back opposition wards after recapturing the two seats it had lost to SDP in the last GE. With Chiam's defection, SDP had no representation in Parliament for the first time since 1984. WP returned two MPs, Low Thia Khiang, now assistant secretary-general, and Jeyaretnam, who returned to Parliament as a Non-Constituency MP since losing his seat in 1986. However, the NCMP allowance, which was equivalent to what a MP received, was shaved to 15% of the amount, similar to what was given to NMPs. Meanwhile, Tang fled Singapore after several lawsuits were filed against him by PM Goh, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, DPMs Lee Hsien Loong and Tony Tan and several PAP MPs. This was later followed by the same action against Jeyaretnam. The only defeated PAP incumbent in recent times to return to politics was former Parliamentary Secretary Tang Guan Seng, whom WP's Low won against in 1991 and had become DPM Lee's political secretary. In June 1997, when NMPs were re-appointed, the number was increased from six to nine. On 6 September 1999, lawmakers shifted to the new Parliament House and part of High Street where it was located was renamed "Parliament Place". The old Parliament House, which had been built in 1827 and was home to the former Legislative Assembly, became a museum that was renamed "The Arts House at the Old Parliament", while the adjacent Parliament Lane was renamed "Old Parliament Lane".

8th Parliament dissolved: 16 December 1996 [Mon]
Nomination day: 23 December 1996 [Mon]
Polling day: 2 January 1997 [Thu]
9th Parliament opening: 26 May 1997 [Mon]

Electorate: 1,881,011
Walkover voters: 1,115,679 (59.3%)
Eligible voters: 765,332 (40.7%)
Voter turnout: 734,000 (95.9%)

Election deposit: $8,000 (+$2,000)

Ayer Rajah Aljunied GRC [5] Marine Parade GRC [6]
Boon Lay Ang Mo Kio GRC [5] Pasir Ris GRC [4]
Bukit Gombak Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC [5] Sembawang GRC [6]
Chua Chu Kang Bukit Timah GRC [5] Tampines GRC [4]
Hougang Cheng San GRC [5] Tanjong Pagar GRC [6]
Kampong Glam East Coast GRC [6] West Coast GRC [4]
MacPherson Hong Kah GRC [5]
Nee Soon Central Jalan Besar GRC [4]
Potong Pasir Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC [4]
Seats: 83

Previous: General Election 1991
By-Election 1992
Next: General Election 2001