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Singapore’s ruling party won another general election, but its support fell to a near record low

Andrew Cuomo

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) maintained its unbroken grip on power in Friday’s general election, even as its popular support slipped to a near record low.

Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the PAP — which has been in power since 1959 — won 83 out of 93 seats in parliament, securing a super majority.

The Workers’ Party took the remaining 10 seats — the most ever held by opposition lawmakers since the city-state’s first general election in 1968.

The PAP’s share of the popular vote also slid to 61.2%, down from nearly 70% five years ago and close to the party’s record low of 60% in 2011.

The election saw a voter turnout of nearly 96%.

“We have a clear mandate but the percentage of the popular vote is not as high as I had hoped for,” Lee said Saturday. “The results reflect the pain and uncertainty that Singaporeans feel in this (Covid-19) crisis.”

Voting during the pandemic

According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, at least 45 countries and territories have decided to hold national or subnational elections since late February despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, while at least 67 countries have postponed their polls.

As Singapore voters headed to polls on Friday, the country’s health ministry reported another 191 new cases of Covid-19 as at 12 p.m.

The number of new cases in Singapore has dropped significantly from its peak in April, when more than 1,000 fresh infections were reported in a single day. Following a two-month lockdown, the country began a gradual lifting of its coronavirus restrictions on June 2.

Last month, Lee said the election would “clear the decks and give the new government a fresh, full five-year mandate.”

“The alternative is to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic, but we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this government’s term must end next April, and that is why I have decided to hold the general elections now,” Lee said at the time.

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