In the past few weeks, two important publications have come out. Terence Lee and Kevin YL Tan have published Change in Voting: Singapore’s 2015 General Election and the special journal of Singapore’s GE in the Round Table edited by James Chin. These publications, featuring younger scholars and diverse views, will contribute to scholarly debate surrounding the gains made by the People’s Action Party (PAP) last September. I have been fortunate to be included in both (but alas cannot claim to be among the younger scholars any longer). Both of my publication draw from the following nationally representative poll, conducted in October-November 2015 after the election. The poll’s release has been delayed to allow these publications to come out.
Please find the key findings of the Welsh GE2015 poll and the attached details of the findings and methodology. This poll joins other public opinion research in Singapore, especially the important post-elections studies conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies.
The key findings of the Welsh GE2015 poll are:
Singaporeans rely on mainstream media sources for their political information, especially television. The Internet had a limited impact on influencing political outcomes, with chat groups even less influential.
Most Singaporeans have a positive assessment of the direction of the country. Those that have positive views emphasize stability and the economy. The minority that sees the country moving in the wrong direction emphasize the issues of immigration and high cost of living.
Most Singaporeans expressed positive satisfaction with the PAP government, although the majority were only “somewhat satisfied”. Similar issues shaped different outlooks.
While Singaporeans did not engage in campaigning or attend rallies in large numbers, nearly two-thirds followed the election. This challenges the view that Singaporeans are politically apathetic.
Senior PAP leaders have the most favorability among the public. Singaporeans have divided views of opposition leaders, with a quarter of Singaporeans lacking familiarity with key political figures. Singaporeans also do not have a sense of who will be the next premier after Lee Hsien Loong.
The PAP has the highest favorability, in keeping with the 2015 election results. There is considerable diversity in views of the different opposition parties, with the WP having the most positive public assessments.
Singaporeans are divided on whether the opposition was effective in parliament, but continue to call for a stronger opposition.
Party leadership, candidates and party identity were more important drivers of voting than issues in GE2015. Of the issues that emerged as important, bread and butter concerns predominated, although there was a diverse range of concerns highlighted by the public.
The GE2015 campaign itself had little impact on changing the voting orientation of Singaporeans.
The opposition’s grassroots were seen as largely ineffective, including that of the Worker’s Party.
Social welfare benefits were influential in shaping voting, as one of the most important identified issues. Nearly two-thirds of Singaporeans reported receiving benefits in the year surrounding the election.
Local grassroots organizations were important in GE2015, with a majority identifying People’s Associations as prominent and a boost for the PAP. Nearly a fifth of Singaporeans report reciving funds from People’s Associations.
Singaporeans expressed happiness and relief in the election results, although minorities expressed regret and anger.
Even after the election, a majority of Singaporeans expressed the view that the opposition is inadequately strong.
A majority of Singaporeans expressed the view that electoral reform was needed, although they differed on the nature of reforms.
Special thanks is given to the Singaporeans who kindly gave of their time to answer the questions. The poll comprised a nationally representative sample of 800 respondents. Questions about the poll can be addressed to email@example.com