Monday, May 09, 2011
1. The PAP had 60.1% of the votes lowest since 1966. The last time it was this low was elections 1991 when the PAP had 61% of the votes. 1991 was Goh Chok Tong's maiden election as PM. From the chart showing PAP's % of votes, a few things - first there was a very large 10% swing against the PAP in 1984 and the next 2 elections in 1988 and 1991 % votes kept falling. The 1984 plunge was due to one really extreme eugenics based idea by Lee Kuan Yew known as the "Graduate Mother's Scheme". Under this scheme, graduate moms would be give all sorts of benefits such as priority for their children for primary school entry etc. Ordinary Singaporeans found this hard to accept and voted against it. In the 1991 elections, when % votes fell to a new low, Goh Chok Tong attributed the loss of support to his soft "consultative style" (no kidding!). He then increase the % votes for the PAP by linking votes to upgrading in the 1997 and increasing the GRC sizes. The 60.1% of the votes that PAP probably underestimates the loss of support for PAP policies because many people voted for the PAP due to upgrading carrots. In 1991 when Goh Chok Tong's team got 61%, there was no upgrading.
3. The opposition had 39.9% of the votes but only 6.7% of the total seats. Four out of 10 Singaporeans did not vote for the PAP are represented by 6 out 87 MPs. The averaging effects of the GRCs produces this kind of under-representation of people who don't support the PAP. Still the results yesterday is far better than the one we got in 2006 when we have 2 out of 87 MPs representing the 33% who voted against the PAP.
2. WP took 46.6% where they contested, followed by SPP's 41%. WP's branding did make a difference. The WP ran a well coordinated campaign. They addressed voter issues systematically with a detailed manifesto and speeches were very well prepared and delivered at rallies. They ran a very clean campaign seizing the moral high ground right from the start. On thing is clear is the electorate does not like negative campaigning. Harsh attacks on the WP manifesto, Chen Show Mao, Tan Jee Say etc bombed badly. In the last elections, the PAP attacked the WP 2006 manifesto calling it full of "time bombs and poison" - one of those "poison" ideas was the reform of the GRC system something most people think is very clearly needed after this election. That attack didn't win any votes. I'm surprised the PAP did it again. Name calling, threats ("you will regret") and smear campaigns tend to backfire because the electorate is educated and today we have the social media that neutralises propaganda and gimmicks. The SDP made also made huge gains this time because it had a good marketing with the "Its about you" concept. The things that work are getting good candidates, having a well coordinated campaign with good ideas, treating voters with respect and fighting a clean fight.
3. SM Goh team got only 56.6% of the votes. The last time Marine parade was contested SM Goh's team had 72% of the votes. SM Goh was running a 1990s campaign taunting his opponents arrogantly calling them "no ideas" and so on. In the 1990s when the PAP was still popular, the upgrading carrot and propaganda was working well, the PAP could carry out these attacks and actually win votes. SM Goh forgets he is in a different world today. Nicole Seah who incidentally is in advertising handled the media extremely well and took every opportunity to portray herself as a champion for the downtrodden, overworked Singaporean and could show herself to be some who can empathise with them. SM Goh's support was also brought down by his own creation, the GRC. Having Tin Pei Ling on his GRC team was a big negative - ironically TPL was in charge of PAP's social media.
4. PM Lee improved his vote share to 69.3% Well shows that it really pays to be humble. I think there were many undecided voters that were won over by his apology. You may think it is insincere or too late, but the simple fact that he realised that he needed to apologise tells voters that the PAP is not completely lost. The change of opponents from WP to less established RP also help him to secure more votes this time.
5. Voter turnout of 93% is the lowest in history In places where the people have not voted for a long time e.g. the absence is close to 10%. Some people may have forgotten that they need to vote. 25% my office did not vote because the people were overseas.
In my opinion, the best election strategy the PAP could have adopted was to take on a more humble apologetic tone to give the people some hope that change is coming and they are sincere. The PAP instead executed a very different strategy for a large part of the campaign e.g. they denied housing problems existed by saying it is still affordable. At the end of the day, they were rescued from disaster by the "silent majority" that still support the PAP simply because things are generally working in Singapore although many things have gotten worse the idea of a govt change is just too drastic for most Singaporeans who are risk averse and will play it safe. Another loss of 6% of votes in future elections even the "silent majority" cannot rescue the PAP from a massive loss of parliament seats.
PAP's ideology - state corporatism + elitism + authoritarianism - is a longer term problem. Unless the PAP repositions itself closer to the middle of the political spectrum by implementing balanced policies, it will see long term erosion of support. Their problem is not just an image problem. The WP has shifted itself from the left to the middle - moving away from a completely socialistic approach, it is not organising labor unions to go on strike, it is asking only for re-nationalisation of the transport and not of all sectors. The PAP is positioned too much to the right. It tells the populace to accept the "free market outcomes" as it pursues GDP growth - income gap, rising cost of living, stagnant wages etc It expects the populace to be resilient and intervenes only in the worst cases of poverty. However, it is time for the PAP to go back and ask itself more fundamental questions : "What is the purpose of GDP growth if it does not benefit as a many Singaporeans as possible?". When the free market is not producing the outcomes you want, you have to intervene sufficiently to deliver the quality of life to your people. Telling people they deserve what they get simply because these are free market outcomes will not be acceptable to a growing number of people - they will see their own situation more as a result of PAP policies because it is not the same in other developed countries where govts have intervened in a different way.
Posting Time 5:15 AM
Posted by Lucky Tan