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PAP racks up landslide win, takes 83 out of 89 seats

Ruling party's national vote share hits 69.86%, a sharp upward swing from GE2011

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OUT IN FORCE PAP: supporters at Toa Payoh Stadium (above) and WP supporters in Hougang Stadium on Friday night. Overall, the PAP pulled in more than 70 per cent of the votes in 15 of the 29 constituencies.
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WP's A-team barely managed to retain their five parliamentary seats.

Singapore

THE People's Action Party (PAP) scored a major victory, not only easily maintaining its unbroken 56-year grip on power after Friday's elections and once again forming the government, but also with a vastly improved national vote share of 69.86 per cent.

That turned out to be a significant upward swing of 9.72 percentage points for the ruling party from the 60.14 per cent at the last polls four years ago, and coming just a month after Singapore's golden jubilee celebrations.

The PAP, fighting its first general election (GE) since founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's death in March this year, gained significant ground on the opposition by winning 83 of the 89 available seats in Singapore's next Parliament.

It was the PAP's largest overall vote share in a general election (GE) since 2001, halting a run of two consecutive declines in some style. Overall, the PAP pulled in more than 70 per cent of the votes in 15 of the 29 constituencies it contested. At GE2011, the PAP managed to breach the 70 per cent mark in only one constituency, the Hong Kah North single seat.

At a post-results press conference held at the Treasury, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the PAP's secretary-general, said that the final outcome had "exceeded" his expectations.

"It's a good result for the PAP, but it's an excellent result for Singapore," said Mr Lee as he thanked voters for their confidence and support.

"It's not possible to have a result like this, across the board and with such a high number, without strong support from all groups, particularly from the young," he said, adding that the results showed how the young people in Singapore supported the PAP's efforts and work to secure the country's future.

"The results will be noted by the outside world, by the media, by investors, by other powers, and by our neighbours. I believe the results will greatly bolster confidence in Singapore and in Singapore's future."

He reserved special praise for the PAP's ability to wrest back one of the three constituencies held by the Workers' Party (WP) - the Punggol East single seat ward - at the first time of asking.

That was a blow for Singapore's top opposition party as it ended up losing one of its seven MPs, Lee Li Lian, who had triumphed in Punggol East via a by-election in 2013.

The WP's A-team in Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC), which includes secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and chairman Sylvia Lim, barely managed to retain their five parliamentary seats.

After a dramatic recount of the votes - the only such instance for this election - the GE's Returning Officer Ng Wai Choong announced at 3.10am that the WP had edged out the PAP with 50.95 per cent of the votes, or a margin of only 2,612 votes.

That marked a poorer performance compared to 2011 when the same WP line-up clinched Aljunied with 54.7 per cent of the votes, ousting a PAP team that contained three office-holders in the process.

Speaking to reporters in Hougang Stadium, Mr Low hailed his party's overall performance considering the "massive swing" towards the PAP this time.

"In terms of the result, I'm satisfied with the performance of the Workers' Party. We've run a good campaign, presented our best candidates to the voters, the candidates conducted themselves very well at this election," he said.

But even as he congratulated the PAP, he stressed the need to build trust between the people and national institutions such as the civil service, judiciary and the mainstream media. "It's important for the future of Singapore. That's what I hope the PAP, after having a strong mandate, will think about. Any politisation of these institutions to gain political advantage, to me, that is against the national interest of Singapore."

Before the official results were announced, much of the attention was focused on several other constituencies that many believed would be a tight tussle.

In the end, the final outcomes weren't even close, but the results didn't come as too much of a surprise as the Elections Department had earlier released its "sample count" results that ended up being very close to the actual scores. The PAP's four-member East Coast team, helmed by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, exceeded many people's expectations with the margin of victory there, defeating a strong WP team by scooping home 60.7 per cent of the valid votes.

There was a big cheer in the PAP camp when first-time candidate Cheryl Chan became the MP-elect for the new Fengshan single seat with a comfortable 57.5 per cent of the votes.

Over in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, another constituency that many thought could go either way, the PAP retained its turf by defeating the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team led by its chief Chee Soon Juan.

Dr Chee, contesting in his first GE since 2001, described his party's performance as "very unique" and a "one-off". The SDP was also unsuccessful in the three other constituencies that it fielded candidates in.

"Right now, it's a matter of seeing what can we take stock of what the SDP has done. In that regard, we have won a lot of hearts and hopefully that will put us in good stead as we go into the future to the next elections," he said.

Meanwhile, the PAP also held on to Marine Parade GRC after beating the WP, which meant another term in Parliament for 74-year-old Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

The ruling party's Sitoh Yih Pin celebrated an impressive victory in Potong Pasir with 66.4 per cent of the vote against his opponent, Lina Chiam of the Singapore People's Party.

For Mr Sitoh, that result was a stunning 16 percentage point swing from GE2011, when he won the seat by just 0.7 per cent - a margin of 114 votes - after a recount.

The PAP and WP - the only two political parties to have won seats in Singapore's 13th Parliament - will hold processions in their respective constituencies on Saturday to thank voters for their support.

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