What You Should Know On Voting And Elections In Singapore

First I didn’t know that there are elections held in Singapore at all. After everything I had heard about the political system in Singapore before actually boarding my plane, I was pretty much convinced that Singapore was ruled by whomever decides to rule and was nothing more then a pseudo democracy. Again, this is not after having lived here but what represents the general image the Western world provides about Singapore’s political situation.

Elections In Singapore – The Basics

There are currently two types of elections in Singapore, the parliamentary elections and the presidential elections. The constitution requires the Parliament to be dissolved after 5 years and reelections within the following 3 month.
Both elections (parliamentary / presidential) are held every 5 years and will commence for the next time in 2011.

In case of important national issues (the last one was called about casinos being build in Singapore) a referendum can be held but has only been established once so far, in 1962 in regards to Singapore’s merger with Malaysia. (Read: What You Must Know About Singapore’s History)

Results of the last general elections in 2006 can be seen here (link)

  • Facts:
  • • 2 types of elections – parliamentary / presidential
  • • Both elections are held every 5 years (next in 2011)
  • • Extraordinary referendum can be called in case of special national issues

The Key Players (Parties) In Singapore’s Elections

Parliamentary Elections
The key to why the Western world largely criticizes Singapore for its political situation is the obvious one-party ruling government, with the People’s Action Party in power since Singapore gained full internal self-rule in 1959.

There are opposition parties that are trying hard, but so far have never been able to get enough votes to gain control of Singapore’s government. (Read: Singapore’s Most Important Political Parties)

Hence Singapore has been governed by one single party since 1959 and in the latest elections in 2006 the People’s Action Party again, won 82 of 84 available seats in the Parliament.

  • • A complete list of the most important political parties in Singapore can be found here (link)

Presidential Elections
The Singapore presidential elections would see a number of eligible candidates with an election every 5 years.
However in the last elections of 2005 the Presidential Elections Committee announced that Sellapan Ramanathan was the only candidate that had received the Certificate of Eligibility and consequently was named the next President without going through any election process.

The Voting – How To?

The legal voting age in Singapore is 21 years and voting is compulsory. The whole process of voting is pretty straight forward and similar to any other election process of other countries (with one small but important exception).

  • Voting In Singapore
  • 1. Register as a elector with the officials for your right to vote
  • 2. Soon later you will receive a poll card via post. The poll card will indicate where and when to vote – Polling Station Locations (link)
  • 3. At the designated time go to your poll station, identify yourself and receive a ballot paper in return
  • 4. Vote in the poll box and drop your ballot paper in the ballot box

Criticism And Controversies Of The Singapore Elections

There have been several highly criticized issues connected to Singapore’s political system and elections.

One-Part Government / Pseudo Democracy:
These are mainly the apparent one-party ruling system by the PAP and possible suppression of any opposition by using state controlled tools. (Read More: Singapore’s Political System – Explained For Strangers)

Compromised Voting Secrecy:
There is big concern that voting secrecy in Singapore might have been compromised and will be compromised in the future. Despite the widely common eVoting systems, Singapore still uses ballot papers which have serial numbers on them.


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