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GE2020: PAP takes 61.24% of the valid vote, loses a second GRC to WP

The WP claimed Sengkang GRC with 52.13 per cent of the valid vote, while improving its margins as the incumbent in both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.

WITH 61.24 per cent of the valid vote and the historic loss of a second group representation constituency (GRC) to the opposition, the People's Action Party (PAP) may not have gained the strong mandate it wished for in the July 10 General Election.

Amid a record turnout, the PAP ended the night with 83 out of 93 seats - well in excess of the 62 required for a two-thirds majority in the House, but with a record number of seats going to the opposition, in only the second GE since independence to see every seat contested.

The PAP's overall vote share was also closer to 2011’s post-independence low of 60.14 per cent than GE2015’s 69.86 per cent figure. 

Out of 31 constituencies, two GRCs and one single-member constituency (SMC) went to the Workers' Party (WP). The WP claimed Sengkang GRC with 52.13 per cent of the valid vote – meaning the loss of three PAP office-holders – while improving its margins as the incumbent in both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.

This meant a record 10 candidates from the WP – and indeed, the opposition – elected to the next Parliament.

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Compared to 2015, there were swings away from the PAP in all constituencies that had existed then, except the single seats of Macpherson and Mountbatten. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who made a surprise move to head the PAP’s East Coast GRC team, received just 53.41 per cent of the valid vote, against a WP team that included Nicole Seah.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a record 96 per cent of 2.65 million registered voters turned up at the polls, up from 93.56 per cent in GE2015. This is not including 6,570 registered overseas voters whose physical ballots have to be sent back to Singapore to be added to the tally.

The PAP’s best GRC showing was in Jurong GRC, where the team led by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam took 74.62 per cent of the vote against newly-formed Red Dot United. This was also where the PAP saw its highest vote share of 79.29 per cent in GE2015.

Next was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s team in Ang Mo Kio GRC, with 71.91 per cent against the Reform Party (RP), down from 78.64 per cent in 2015.

Other GRCs where the PAP took more than 65 per cent of the valid vote were Bishan-Toa Payoh, Holland-Bukit Timah, Jalan Besar, Sembawang and Tampines.

While there were 10 opposition parties this GE – the highest ever – the WP was the only one to win seats, increasing its vote share in Aljunied to 59.93 per cent from 50.96 per cent in 2015, improving to 61.19 per cent in Hougang from 57.66 in 2015, and gaining Sengkang.

The PAP's loss in Sengkang means the loss of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and labour chief Ng Chee Meng; Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min; and Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, who ran with new candidate Raymond Lye.

The WP also pulled in 42.24 per cent of the vote in Marine Parade GRC, where the PAP team was led by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin after Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s retirement.

The closest fight with a losing opposition team was in West Coast GRC, where the PAP's team led by ministers S Iswaran and Desmond Lee claimed a narrow victory with 51.69 per cent of the valid vote, against the Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) star team, headed by party chief and former PAP Member of Parliament Tan Cheng Bock.

As the best-performing opposition losers, the PSP's West Coast team is expected to be offered Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) seats. There can be up to 12 NCMP seats in the next Parliament, less the number of elected opposition MPs, which means just two NCMP seats up for grabs.

The PSP, which fielded the largest opposition slate of 24 candidates, managed vote shares of 35.24 per cent to 44.96 per cent in the other constituencies that it contested.

The Singapore Democratic Party, which fielded 11 candidates, did better in the single seats where party leaders Chee Soon Juan and Paul Tambyah stood, gaining 45.2 per cent in Bukit Batok and 46.26 per cent in Bukit Panjang respectively. It managed vote shares of 29.46 per cent to 36.82 per cent elsewhere.

The Peoples Voice party, which fielded 10 candidates, lost its deposit in a three-cornered fight in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC by gaining 12.18 per cent of the vote, just shy of the 12.5 per cent required. The PAP team took 64.15 per cent of the vote, with the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) – contesting there for the fourth time – taking 23.67 per cent.

In the only other three-cornered fight, the PAP’s Patrick Tay defended Pioneer SMC with 61.98 per cent of the vote against the PSP’s Lim Cher Hong and independent Cheang Peng Wah, with the latter forfeiting his S$13,500 election deposit with 2.7 per cent of the vote.

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