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Electoral boundaries committee convened in first formal step towards next S'pore GE

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The committee that reviews Singapore's electoral boundaries and divisions has been formed - the first step leading to the next general election.

[SINGAPORE] The committee that reviews Singapore's electoral boundaries and divisions has been formed - the first step leading to the next general election.

The Elections Department announced on Wednesday (Sept 4) that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has been convened.

Its statement said the committee has been tasked to further reduce the average size of GRCs, and create more single-member constituencies (SMCs).

The size of GRCs has been steadily reduced, on average, from 5.4, following complaints that large ones make it even harder for opposition parties to field the required candidates for a team.

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The average GRC size has dipped from five in 2011 to 4.75 at the 2015 general election.

The number of SMCs now stands at 13, one more than in 2011.

ELD said the committee is in the midst of deliberations, and will release its recommendations in due course.

As recently as July, Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh had filed a parliamentary question asking if the panel had been formed. The answer given on July 8 was no.

In the previous three elections that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has helmed, the committee has taken between two to four months to do its work.

The time between the release of this report and Polling Day has ranged from 17 days to six months.

For the elections under PM Lee, the time between the release of the reports and Polling Day ranged from one month and 19 days to two months and 14 days.

Political parties typically wait for the report to be made public to firm up their slates.

After the committee's report is published, the next stage in the lead-up to the polls is for Parliament to be dissolved and the writ of election issued.

The next step is Nomination Day, which must take place no earlier than five days and no later than one month after the writ is issued.

Nomination Day is the start of the campaign period, which is required by law to be a minimum of nine days.

There is then a Cooling-Off Day, which falls on the eve of Polling Day when voters cast their ballots.

In past elections, the interval between the committee's formation and Polling Day ranged from two to seven months.

This is the first time the ELD has made a formal announcement about the committee's formation under PM Lee's watch.

For the 2006 and 2015 polls, ministers announced in Parliament that the ERBC had been formed, in response to questions filed.

In the lead-up to the 2011 election, PM Lee announced the formation of the committee in response to questions from reporters.

The next general election must be held by April 2021.

THE STRAITS TIMES