The governing PAP called a snap GE in the 50th year of Singapore's independence. The golden jubilee milestone, branded "SG50", also saw the passing of Singapore's first Prime Minister and Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Lee Kuan Yew in March. Setting a record 60 years as a lawmaker since 1955, his seat was vacated and national mourning was held over seven days following his death.
After losing a GRC in 2011 and one more SMC in 2013, PAP responded to the signals of the electorate and tweaked its policies to cool escalating housing prices, enhance transport services, reward the nation's elderly pioneers and impose a significant cut to the salaries of ministers. Frequent train breakdowns remained, which led Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew to bow out of a short political career to take responsibility. In the GE, its campaign slogan was "With You, For You, For Singapore". Former PM Goh Chok Tong was persuaded by PM Lee Hsien Loong to run for one last term and was the oldest candidate in the GE.
The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report, released on 24 July 2015, recommended more four-member GRCs. The writ for elections was issued two days after PM Lee's National Day Rally. For the first time since 1963, in a space of 11 GEs, all seats were contested. This would appear to be a permanent trend, as more political interest had taken root since WP's unprecedented achievement. However, the national fervour and fear of replacing the governing party with an unstable coalition went in PAP's favour as it won an unexpected resounding victory and reversed two electoral declines.
In the last four years, PAP turned its attention on what it deemed was WP's mismanagement of its sole town council, such as a poor audit rating and cleaning of hawker centres, and continued to do so during the campaign. WP countered the charges by stating that the government had abused its authority and denied the town council of grants. The main opposition party's performance in Parliament was also met with both bouquets and brickbats. PAP and some observers felt it could have been more substantial and vocal, while others expressed that its approach was realistic given its small number of seats. WP continued its call to voters to build an alternative by its campaign slogan "Empower Your Future".
In a bold move, PAP parachuted sitting incumbents into opposition wards. Charles Chong, who narrowly fended off a loss to WP in 2011, regained Punggol East from it for PAP. However, the team led by former Aljunied GRC MP Yeo Guat Kwang, who had been drafted into Ang Mo Kio GRC and returned to take the place of Serangoon PAP branch chairman Chan Hui Yuh at the final hour, failed to do the same. WP was the only opposition party that won seats and was eligible for all three Non-Constituency MP seats, becoming the only party other than PAP in Parliament. WP's Lee Li Lian declined her NCMP seat and was the first to do so since 1984 when the scheme started and two opposition candidates rejected theirs. NCMP Gerald Giam also stepped down and nominated another fellow candidate from WP's East Coast GRC team, while a third from the team was proposed to replace the former Punggol East MP, which the PAP-dominated legislature approved on 28 January 2016.
The only other opposition party in Parliament before the GE was SPP, which was represented by NCMP Lina Loh, wife of opposition veteran Chiam See Tong. Chiam decided to hang up his political boots after 39 years in politics but supported his party at the rallies. Loh ran again in the former opposition ward of Potong Pasir once held by her husband but lost by a wider margin this time. In 2012, SPP splintered with a breakaway group reviving the dormant DPP but closer to the GE, both parties allied to form a team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
Keeping its civil disobedience actions in the backburner and turning to focus on policy papers since the last GE, SDP saw its secretary-general Chee Soon Juan contest the polls after a 15-year absence. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2012 after offering a nominal sum to former PMs Lee and Goh Chok Tong in a previous defamation lawsuit. Turning towards a moderate approach with its slogan entitled "Your Voice in Parliament", it reclaimed its space as the second-best performing opposition party.
NSP generated the most candidates in the last GE but many had since resigned. This GE, its theme was "Singaporeans Deserve Better". Despite initiating opposition talks to avoid multi-corner fights, it wrangled with WP over several wards and made an about-turn on an earlier agreement not to field a candidate in MacPherson. Former NCMP Steve Chia was initially the candidate but later backed out and quit politics, citing online abuse. Former SDP MP Cheo Chai Chen took his place and lost his deposit. This became the first three-corner fight involving WP and NSP but the antics had affected NSP's reputation.
Newly-formed SingFirst took on Tanjong Pagar GRC previously helmed by the elder Lee, which was the only uncontested constituency in 2011. Under the slogan "Restore Our Nation", the leadership of former Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say did not help it avoid becoming one of the worst performers at the polls. At the bottom was RP with its theme "A Brighter Future Tomorrow, Today", which fielded a team of mainly activists who have had previous brushes with the state in Ang Mo Kio GRC helmed by PM Lee. The interesting contest was dampened by the results, which gave PAP second-best. Another new party was PPP with the campaign slogan "Securing Our Future", which was similar to PAP's in the 2011 GE.
After sitting out the last GE, PKMS unveiled its party president as the ethnic minority candidate for the sole SDA team. The alliance's slogan was "A Heart For the People". The total of eight participating opposition parties was the largest number since 1984. Independent candidates, not seen since 2001, appeared in two SMCs. One was activist Han Hui Hui, a former RP ally and the youngest candidate in the GE, who was supported by SF chairman and former RP chairman Ng Teck Siong. She performed well for an independent. Another was an India-born Singapore citizen campaiging on national happiness.
Another first was that the election deposit amount required dropped for a GE, although it had decreased to $13,500 during the 2012 by-election, only to increase to the present rate by the following one the year after. To curb rumours, speculations and leaks from counting centres, a sample vote count tally was carried out and released before the official results. In the aftermath, PM Lee appointed three Coordinating Ministers into his Cabinet, an increase from one since 2003.
|12th Parliament dissolved:
25 August 2015, Tuesday
1 September 2015, Tuesday
10 September 2015, Thursday
11 September 2015, Friday
15 September 2015, Tuesday
|13th Parliament opening:
15 January 2016, Friday
2,462,926 [OV: 4,868]
2,307,746 [OV: 3,415] (93.7%)
$14,500 (-$1,500 from 2011)